If you did not manage to read the first instalment of my Gulu Ugandan Road Trip you can find it here

After spending a good few hours stripping the generator down and servicing it I managed to start it up. The poor old machine was missing terribly so I added a new sparkplug to the list of things I wanted to find. In Africa, I have found, it is best to make a long list of everything you need before you set out as there are no major suppliers or an online Amazon to order from!

I knew I needed lights, but my generator was only a 5HP with an old AC outlet which was broken and needed to be jerry-rigged to make the connections sound.

So, I headed off to Gulu town centre to see what I could find. One of the greatest things about Africa is that nothing is ever wasted. Everything is recycled and when it breaks it gets recycled again! Cars often break down and parts are not available but that is by no means the end of the usefulness of all of the parts of the vehicle. The panels of the car are usually cut off and remodelled into pots and pans or gate panels. The seats are removed and dismantled then the springs and stuffing are reused. There is something for everybody in an old, wrecked car.

Gulu Town Centre

I ended up talking to a gang of mechanics sat by the side of the road waiting hopefully for business. The day was hot, and we sat under a tree and discussed spark plugs. It was decided that further along the road was another man that worked mainly on generators, and he might have a decent spark plug, a new one was out of the question. I found the man and we sat under another tree. He examined the spark plug then routed through his boxes of parts and came up with a relatively new one that I could buy. We tested it in a generator he was repairing, and it worked well. Then I asked about lights. The mechanic pointed me towards a small run of shops that were owned by an Indian Family. The lady in the shop was wonderful and she directed me to her brother’s shop that specialized in lights for Diwali, an Indian festival. After another twenty-minute walk, I found the shop and luckily it was full of Christmas lights, so I bought six strings. He also had very cheap two core wire that would just about do the job of linking the sets of lights together. This all took most of the day to get complete.

The following morning, I was up bright and early with all of my goodies. I had a few hours before the ceremonies commenced. I employed a gang of young kids running around the compound and got them climbing trees. Once they were all in position, I strung the Christmas lights up in all the strategic areas and linked it with the twin core cable, I was using AC power from the generator, but on this occasion, an earth was out of the question.

Cooking and Eating Outdoors

I had to make a special route to the old lady’s new house where she was on show for the ceremony. This area had to be lit to allow people to come and sit and chat with her while they ate their meals. Another area I had to light with my sparkly Christmas lights was the makeshift abattoir. The cows and goats were being brought into the compound for the massive feast. Each family had its own cooking area but the beasts were all slaughtered in one place to keep the flies at bay. The poor creature was hobbled, then tied to a tree and its throat was cut. All the blood was carefully collected and when the poor animal finally succumbed it was dragged off to the families’ section. Then it was hung by its hind legs from another tree and dismembered. Everything was used from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail.

Cooking a Cow's Head on a Fire

As night came the party got bigger and bigger there were huge campfires dotted all around the compound and lines of people all queuing either to see the old lady or to get a good meal of meat and vegetables. Meat is not often eaten so it was a real treat. Once the mourners had their meals, they would stand in the queue to see the old lady and pay their respects. My lights lit the whole place up with bright flashing colours! I like to think it added to the atmosphere.

I spent the night nursing the generator and helping with the meals. Pauline and her sister helped with the old lady’s home, making sure the elders were able to sit with the old lady the whole night and sing songs and tell stories about her. The whole affair was very emotional and something I will never forget. I felt a part of the proceedings and was very happy that my electrical skills had come in handy.

As the sun came up for the final day of the ceremonies the old lady was placed in a coffin. A procession was formed comprising of all her close relatives and the village elders and sons. She was then taken to a corner of the compound where a grave had been dug and lined with cement and tiles. She was laid to rest at around 11 am and a large concrete block was placed over the grave to keep the animals out.

This marked the end of the burial for my wife and me, but the mourners would be staying probably for another week or so to help with the house and the compound. This is when deals would be done, and wives sought for the next generation.

Pauline and I had decided we would take the long route back and visit Fort Patiko a particularly amazing place a few kilometres from Gulu. We would then head back through the Uganda National Park and have a look at Murchison Falls before heading to Kampala. 

We are currently supporting Team Seas which is a project via YouTubers to raise thirty million dollars and take thirty million pounds of trash from the world’s oceans. I am contributing and I hope some of you do too or just pass the message on. This is a wonderful project where we in the social media can really make a difference. You can find them at #TeamSeas.
Well, that’s about all folks. I hope you enjoyed the second chapter of my trip to Uganda. 

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Cheers for now