As you read this, DeDe and I are Up Country in northern Kenya.
We are researching Unreached People Groups at Kakuma Refugee Camp.
The following story is from our upcoming ebook, Trampled Grass.
You can follow both of us on Twitter with hashtag #UpCountry.
CHAPTER 4 UP COUNTRY
“I’m going up the country
Got to get away.”
– Canned Heat in “Up the Country”
Most of the stories in Trampled Grass take place in the part of Uganda called “Up Country.”
This rural and wild part of the country is often sneered at by residents in Kampala. It’s considered backwards and unstable.
It’s our favourites part of the country.
Uganda isn’t a large country.
It compares roughly in size to our state of Colorado.
Size of Uganda compared to the U.S.
You cannot understand Uganda without a geographical understanding of its relationship to the Nile River.
The Nile begins its long journey as it surges out of Lake Victoria at Jinja, Uganda. This is considered the source of the great river and the river is called the Victoria Nile at this point.
The River heads north then turns west across central Uganda where much of its mileage is actually a large swampy area called Lake Kyoga.
Uganda’s main north-south highway crosses the Nile at one of the country’s most beautiful spots, Karuma Falls.
This is where Up Country begins. The land across the Nile is completely different.
The people are different also. The Up Country tribes are primarily Nilotic while those south of the Nile are Bantu. This is an important delineation between the two regions.
Until a decade ago, you crossed at Karuma at the possible risk of your life. Northern Uganda was in the purview of the Lord’s Resistance Army.
More on that misnamed group later.
Before turning north, the Nile passes through Murchison Falls National Park in and out of Lake Albert. This area is renowned for its animal life and beauty.
It’s now called the Albert Nile and crisscrosses Up Country before entering South Sudan on its still long journey to Egypt.
Most of the stories in this book take place along the Albert Nile. There are three major refugee camps along the River: Adjumani Camps, Rhino Camps, and Koboko Camps.
The first is where Dinka refugees have settled, the second is primarily the Nuer tribe, and Koboko contains Kakwa refugees from neighboring Congo.
I feel much more comfortable in Up Country than the urban shores of Lake Victoria.
It’s probably because I’m from “the sticks in Louisiana.”
People from our largest city, New Orleans, sneer at our part of Louisiana as “backwards and ignorant.”
So I understand about how Up Country folks feel.
Many times they use the term “marginalized.” They’re underdogs.
And we Americans always like an underdog.
In Trampled Grass,you’ll learn about the people who live Up Country, a place where you’re made to feel welcome.
A place where babies often burst out crying at the sight of a white man.
It’s Up Country.
A place we love.