Talk about Gulu town .... and you will instantly be bombarded with stories and memories of the northern Uganda War/ Conflict , certainly the name 'Joseph Kony' will come up, the suffering of children caught up in the conflict... and ... and the stories are endless!
This beautiful northern uganda town has had its bitter share of the conflict and different from what you will very likely see/read on the web about this town, I am not about to take it down that line of war and conflict. This place is such a beautiful place that has a glorious lot to offer.
Surely those long years of war and conflict don't belong to this town ... and not anywhere in the world ( at least not in this era). It's fair to say that it was a conflict/war whose motive was never clearly explained - was it really politics? Nop! - and that is just my opinion ...
Believe you, me, the people of this town and far beyond, throughout the region that was affected by the war, are very strong people. People that have picked themselves up to return their towns to glory.
Such momentous past that is still evident in various parts of the northern region is what the people of this town and Ugandans at large will want to quickly forget - if only we could delete it out of the history lane!
This town is the administrative and commercial centre of the District. It is about 200 miles from Kampala by road; that's about 1 hour and 40 minutes by air - awesome! no need for the long travel by road (if you can), you can quite easily fly from Entebbe Airport to Gulu Airport. (Read more about other airports in Uganda here)
Once you meet the people of this region; majority of whom are the Acholi people - these constitute about 80% of the population of about 120,000, you will love them. With such calmness, even with all they have been through, they carry that Ugandan smile that has forever defined this country.
Luo is the common language spoken with English and Swahili (of course being the two recognised national languages as stipulated in the constitution) finding their way here.
These are times of change ... and not just for this town but for most of the places that were affected by the conflict. Quite a significant level of investment and development can be seen. A lot of NGOs have focused their development programs to these areas - what can I say, it's back to business!
... Just one thing I need to highlight;
Forget about the ongoing propaganda of 'KONY 2012' on the social media network - for me, for all its good cause, it's come rather too late and only confusing the world into thinking that the north is still in such deep conflict. Total peace has since returned to the region (you are looking at 7/8 years now - precisely, since 2005) and an 'on-going war talk' would be greatly out of context and misplaced.
The feeling of flourish feels the air; quite a considerable reconstruction is going on, new hotels have come up, chain grocery stores and internet cafes equipped with WIFI.
Some landmarks to look out for;
The town is home to Gulu University - a government own institution that offers a range of programs from Agriculture, medicine, business management to conflict management. The University's School of Medicine is one of the five accredited Medical schools in Uganda.
Its health care services are probably the envy of other towns, Its duly served by 3 decent hospitals; St Mary's Hospital Lacor, the government run Regional Referral Hospital and Gulu Independent Hospital.
And just in case you like to catch some live sports, Pece Stadium - undoubtedly the largest in the region with a capacity of about 30,000, is the place to be.
The air waves are filled with several radio stations; Mega FM, Jal Fresh, Radio Rupiny and Choice FM among others that run a range of programs on developmental issues, politics, talk shows, health awareness programs, news and more ...
It's also home to the headquarter of the 4th division of Uganda Peoples Defence Forces - there you are, that is security covered for you!
... And here is the interesting bit; you will be tucked away from the traffic jam in Kampala. This town will take you by surprise!
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