History of the People: Banda Acholi Quarters

The Acholi inhabit the northern territory of Uganda, which borders South Sudan. This area has been the site of rebellion for decades. Idi Amin ordered the murders of thousands of Acholis in the 1970s. The Amin government was then overthrown in a military coup by Okello, an Acholi. When Museveni then overthrew Okello in the mid-1980s, he also ordered his National Resistance Army (NRA) to conduct thousands of revenge murders on the Acholi people. The most recent violence has come from Joseph Kony, who is an Acholi from Gulu. His Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has attempted to “purify” the Acholi people and has been responsible for the murders of hundreds of thousands from northern Uganda, southern Sudan, and the Congo. He has recruited nearly 70,000 child soldiers, often by forcing the children to kill their family members or be killed themselves. The current government has helped over a million northern Ugandan citizens seek safety in refugee camps, making them internally displaced citizens.

These camps have had the highest rates of mortality in the world, with nearly 1000 dying weekly primarily from AIDS and malaria. Many of these Acholi citizens sought their own safety by either fleeing from their original villages or refugee camps for the city of Kampala. The Banda Acholi Quarters just outside of the capital city of Kampala in southern Uganda has been a site of refuge for many of these displaced Acholis. They are squatters on this public ground, with an estimated 50,000 people living on 30 acres. Over the past twenty years, they have built small mud huts about 6’x8’ in size to house about 10 people each. They manage to barely survive on the land. The average family size is around ten, often composed of a woman caring for her own children and usually orphaned nieces and nephews rendered parent-less from Kony’s genocide. Now they have been informed by the city government that their land will be demolished, thus forcing them to find shelter and refuge elsewhere.

Nikki Lynn