Once I stopped riding my bike to work because I feared I’d be shot dead. It was an old blue Norco. I’d pedal it to the newsroom of the Yemen Times, in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital. This wasn’t long after the Twin Towers fell on 9/11. More so, it was just after three American medical missionaries, friends, were murdered in a hospital by
ATHENS ✦ I'll never forget the unknown boy and his horrible end, not any more than I'll forget Arash and his eyes on the day we met when the waters of the Mediterranean were cold.
(The Hamilton Spectator - Saturday, March 15, 2014) KAMPALA, UGANDA ✦Fear is a strange thing, which is why it’s so hard to look into the eyes of another human being that you’re about to gas or bomb or, in the case of Uganda’s gays, throw to the lions. This is also why President Yoweri Museveni recently refused to meet with Uganda’s gay community – there were repeated requests – before signing Uganda’s infamous anti-gay law. The new law means even touching with the intent of a homosexual act – try to prove or disprove this one – will get you seven years. Short of jail, a life-sentence for a single homosexual act, there’s obviously also a new chill on the street here.
(Christian Week - March 12, 2014) KAMPALA, UGANDA ✦ By now you’ve heard plenty about Uganda’s new toughened laws on homosexuality, the news that spread to the West with the fanfare of a dark sporting event. Even short of jail—terms range from seven years to life—it’s a new day of survival in a horrible state-sanctioned chill. Several weeks in, like so many things in developing nations, it’s hard to know all that’s happening. Was that murder really a robbery gone bad? And that street beating? Why did she really lose her job? Many things simply don’t make the news here in Uganda.
(The Hamilton Spectator - Saturday, February 16, 2013) KAMPALA, UGANDA ✦ It was YouTube and it was Barack Obama talking to the neighbours in Kenya. You may have heard that they’re about to vote. The last time the Kenyans did this, six years ago, 1,000 lay dead on the bloody streets. Another 600,000 were displaced, including here to Uganda where UN shelters near the airport are still up.
(The Hamilton Spectator - Friday, January 25, 2013) ARUSHA, TANSANIA ✦ Edward should be fired. I can't trust Alice. And our piano and laptop won’t resurface any more than anyone will know what happened to that $13 million. This is how it’s going around here. Not right here, actually. I’m on business one country over, just southeast from my home in Uganda. At the moment I’m drinking a cider of sorts, what the gentleman beside me called 'rotten apples,' a pretty good name, I think, for my recent experiences.
The official charge is ignoring orders of a public official. But the real problem is words. Just words. You know, words can be enough. Too much, even, when they say this and that; when they’re relevant and lacerating; when they’re passed to others and speak more than anyone even realizes; when they speak truth that isn’t just truth to be understood, but that deeper truth that causes a lump in your throat because you know someone has experienced it with some amount of pain.
KAMPALA, UGANDA – The times, they are a changin.’ Maybe. Sort of. Well, we live in hope, anyway. I think of it while on Skype with Walid al Saqaf. We’re talking to catch up, about Yemen and censorship and technology and other things. Walid is a Yemeni journalist who has been noted in this space in the past. We were colleagues in Sana’a while Walid was publisher and editor-in-chief of the Yemen Times. I worked at his side.