Monday’s dawn found our family on the road to Kampala. Christopher leaving before light in order to arrive early in Mbale to run extra errands. I followed an hour behind allowing Carmel some additional sleep before the craziness of travel. We joined forces in Mbale and took one vehicle to Kampala, praying the whole way for peace and safety. We were on our way to pick up the new pastor and his family, David & Rashel Robbins.
You may have heard that Uganda voted on its president this week. There were rumors and rumors of rumors about impending violence, unrest or even civil war. We didn’t really know what to expect. At lunch we heard that the opposition leader had been arrested and was being held in a prison in Kampala. After a blessedly light day of traffic, we reached Kampala. We began to take directions from one of our Ugandan clinic staff who we were giving a ride to. We needed to arrive at a certain store before it closed for the day since they would be shuttered the rest of the week due to the election. We ended up driving straight through where a demonstration had recently been dispersed. We knew by the fact that vehicles, buildings, people, everything was painted magenta. Another intersection was littered with police and loitering crowds. We passed without incident.
Tuesday and Wednesday were filled with doctor appointments to make sure everything with the baby is in order. Baby Verdick is growing well and healthy. Mama Verdick is getting bigger every day! Then a mad dash to accomplish what else we could before the city closed down. At noon on Wednesday, we picked up the Robbins and headed to the other side of town hoping to be out of the thick of anything on election day. Traffic was traffic as usual. The opposition leader was escorted to his home by police due to gathering a crowd on the day before voting when campaigning is not allowed. A reason for violence?
Thursday, election day, found us on the road early to Mbale where we rested and fellowshipped with our colleagues who run Knox Theological Seminary there. The town was closed down and there was no traffic on the road. We had hired a Ugandan to help ferry all the people and luggage north. He made it back to Entebbe by mid-afternoon in time to vote! We discovered that social media including Whatsapp and Facebook were shut down by all major internet providers across Uganda in order to discourage mass communication about demonstrations. Mobile Money, a way to send money across the phone network, was shut off to prevent bribing votes.
Friday, we bought the last of our desired items surprised to find the fresh produce market and local stores mostly open. We headed to Karamoja and thanked God for the dry roads. The road our driver had taken the day before to get to his home was closed off. The opposition’s headquarters was searched by police and their leader once again detained.
Rumors continue to fly about what will happen when election results are announced and Museveni, Uganda’s president of 30 years, wins. The initial results show Museveni getting 62% and the opposition 32%. Is it enough to cause chaos and unrest? Possibly. Would different leadership be any less corrupt? Unlikely. Even dictators are in the hand of God. We thank Him for granting us safe travel in uncertain times.