Uganda: People

Mixed in with our posts about what we did each day on our trip we want to have some post that are just reflections on what we saw, did, and learned while in Uganda. So…here is a first one…

As we were preparing for this trip I tried really hard not to have ideas in my head about what Uganda was going to be like, I wanted to go as a learner with no assumptions. This is of course impossible in the end.

It’s kind of funny thought the things that I found surprising or that I was not prepared for. One of these was just the number of people. Well, not so much the number of people, but the density of people. Here at home if we drive say from Tulsa to Siloam Springs you never see anyone walking on the side of the road. Well, unless they ran out of gas or something like that. In Uganda you see hundreds of people walking or riding bikes just going about their daily lives. There would be small markets and houses almost the whole way.

So, just for comparison because it seems interesting (all these stats are from various Internet sources and are probably rounded off, but you get the idea):

Population:

  • United States: 309 million
  • Oklahoma: 3,500,000
  • Tulsa: 400,000
  • Uganda: 33.8 Million
  • Kampala: 1,600,00

Density:

  • United States: 87/mile2
  • Oklahoma: 54/mile2
  • Tulsa 2100/mile2
  • Uganda: 438/mile2
  • Kampala: 24,500/mile2

I think partly this density of population struck me because I value solitude, some of my favorite things to do involve getting far away from people and cities…so i would not be a good Ugandan! There are of course consequences (good and bad) to high population density, and I hope as I learn more about Uganda and Africa in general I will come to understand those better. But, while I was there driving around I think the amazing thing was to wonder and try to in some way imagine the stories of the people that we saw. Their lives are obviously very different from ours, but in the end I’m not so sure that the basic concerns of life…the basics of our story as broken people trying to live in a broken world are so different. Our friend Sara Swenson has a great song worth quoting (I left out a few verses..find the full lyrics here, better yet just buy the album):

Passing Cars, Passing Time

Written by Sara Swenson ©2010 S. Swenson Songs/ASCAP

I…I don’t know you
But we seem to be rolling the same way today
And you …you may ask who
Drives beside you on this long highway

Tires moving round and round
Destination next town
Thinking hard and moving on
Making plans for life beyond

And I…I don’t know you
But we seem to be rolling the same way today
And you …you may ask who
Drives beside you on this long highway

A billion thoughts, a million miles
A thousand stories on this road
A billion thoughts, a million miles

I…I don’t know you
But we seem to be rolling the same way today
You …you may ask who
Drives beside you on this long highway
Drives beside you on this long highway

There are all these stores of people, in the car next to you, or in a country all the way around the world. Its impossible to know them all (for the record world: population: 6.79 billion, density: 118/mile2), but I am more convinced then ever that it is worth doing your best to hear a few of them.

 

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