On one of our return walks from the school at Okwiam – which was an hour commute including crossing a river – we were talking about our home with the translator. He asked us how much it rains at our place and we explained that our home is technically a desert with few big storms. We get in a year what Karamoja can get in a day, or at least that’s what it feels like! Realizing that we also had no thunder or lightning, the translator said, “Your rain is ever silent, eh?” We agreed and lamented at the lack of celestial beauty as an accomplice to our scarce our rain.
Christopher and I realized the truth in this simple statement again one day when we went to take pictures of the rain. We took shelter in the open church structure just outside the missionary compound. It has a beautiful view of the mountains and savannah. The building is crowned with a tin roof, as are many of the compound houses. We watched the clouds approach, the wind heralding its coming. A Karamajong man carrying a plow found shelter with us, in part I’m sure to observe these strange Mzungus. As the rain began, we heard the delicate music on the metal roof. Then the deluge came and the concert was deafening, drowning out our speech and any thoughts of ducking out into the elements. Lightning struck and thunder rolled, combining with the tin instrument above our heads in nature’s melody.
Rain at this time of year is nearly an absolute in Karamoja. The cloud shadows grow first, then the wind tickles your overheated body with delicious coolness. The locals quickly pack up their wares and head home from market day. Even the Mzungus will directly turn toward home at the daily signs. However, this blessed nectar causes dirt roads to become impassible, paths as traps for the unwary and floods the precious gardens. It is reprieve from the heat and an unwieldy weapon of nature. A blessing and a curse.
At our home, the rain is ever silent. I strain to hear any drops or even find a puddle to jump in. It does not kill our next season’s food or make my commute nigh impossible – though it may worsen the traffic I can still make it to work! Our rain does not often speak with the voice of thunder or calamity. In Karamoja the rain is ever loud, yelling from the skies its battle cry and speaking directly into the daily lives of the local people.
In Karamoja, the rain is ever deafening.