Ugandans and Expats Face Off in the Blogosphere

I can also tell an American blogger when I read one—they are different in a way that neither makes me laugh or angered. See this entry, for example. Well, maybe some aren't that American, but the Americans—most expats, anyway—tend to lean towards that. To them, Uganda is little more than an experiment in hard living.

This quote comes from 27 Comrade's blog, who is known for inflammatory comments on other people’s blogs. In the same post, he nominated Kelly for an “honorable mention” for this post about Stupid Bazungu and this post about her anniversary.

Kelly writes about her life in Kampala with no holds barred. In this entry, Dead Bodies and I love Uchumi, she writes,

I got closer to the scene in my car…. It was an older Ugandan man laying smashed on the road bleeding in sort of a fetal position with his back to me. He was wearing a bloody pink golf shirt and a pair of dark track pants…

I panicked for a second because by the time I realized it was a human body I was so close to it. There were cars behind me coming up fast and the two men who had hit each other and the pedestrian were still arguing animatedly but no one was doing anything about the man lying in the road.

For whatever reason, sheer shock and my own jaded sense of mortality in Uganda and desensitization to traffic accidents involving motorcycles and pedestrians I DID NOTHING.

Kelly explained herself by saying this:

Rationalizing it to a friend of mine I came up with what I think is an excellent analogy. If you were a black man in baggy jeans and corn rows who happened to be walking down the street in an upper class white suburban area in America and you watched another black man knock out some little old white lady and steal her purse and run off would you go help the little old lady?? My answer if I was that black man is F%CK NO. I would get the hell away from that scene because chances are the little old lady would think it was you and then before you knew it the cops would be arresting you!

In my mind if I stopped I was afraid the men arguing would see me and decide that it was actually me who hit the man, to cover themselves, very probable by the way here in Uganda, as I have been blamed for many things I did not do simply because I am a white woman and therefore a perceivably very easy, vulnerable (and lucrative) target.

And wait for it… here it comes… the comment… it’s anonymous:

If you had been in America, would you have taken no action to help the guy who got hit by a car?

If you had been in America, and had by some freak accident, been privy to so many people dying in the same space of time, would you have become so desensitized to death?

Personally, I think the reason why you are so desensitized to death, is not because you've suddenly witnessed it so much, but its because its not American or white people dying! From what I gather from your blog, as long as its Africans dying, you really don't give an effing…

But why should we africans be surprised? Even your media is like that. Two white people die in Europe or America and its a blooming tragedy. Millions die in Darfur and your president won't label it a genocide. I really shouldn't expect anything more from you should I?

Kelly defends herself, but later on 27 Comrade’s blog, people take issue with her. Another blogger, Duksey says here:

Kelly's blog has some annoying issues.

But perhaps the most interesting take on the divide comes from Hannah, the View from Kololo, where she writes about a party at the American Ambassador to Uganda’s digs:

Tuesday evening Stephen Browning, the U.S. Ambassador to Uganda, hosted a cocktail hour for a congressional delegation led by Nita Lowey of New York. J RSVP’d but it was a last-minute decision to attend. Really, I was just in the mood to get dressed up. Also, I had missed the Fourth of July party at the ambassador’s house and I was curious to see the grounds….

Drinks were served by the pool. The house sits very close to the road, so we had no idea a long set of stairs to the side of the house would bring you to a large back garden with pool and pool house. It was quite lovely. I’m so glad our tax dollars are put to such good use…..

The delegation was in Uganda for two days, one of which was spent traveling to and from Gulu in the north. Then they returned to Kampala, had a fancy cocktail party at the ambassador’s house, and went to sleep in the poshest and most expensive hotel in the country. In her speech Nita expressed how much they enjoyed seeing how people here really live. Keep dreaming, sister, keep dreaming. I wouldn’t even make such lofty claims after five months here…..

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