Only Pork Moves Fast in Gulu

I’m back in Gulu on this sunny morning, and was gently roused from my slumbers by the insistent beeping of a minibus driver outside my window. Aah, the sounds of the city. It’s calm here, definitely spoiling for a storm but refusing to just get it over with. Instead the air is close and the wind is listless but the sky, as yet, is still clear.
Gulu is not big. It is centred around a cross of two main streets, from which a grid expands. At the centre of the cross stands a statue of two children reading from a tall stack of books. A touching message of hope and belief in the children of Uganda, were it not for the fact that some philistine has wallpapered it with posters advertising ‘Miss Karuma Falls 2010’. The vertical of the cross, Main street (as I call it, though I think it has a proper name) has got a couple of bars on it but the main trade is a plethora of banks, a few snack bars and several electrical retailers.
The crossways street, which I have yet to really bother to name or identify, doesn’t have much on it, but it does lead to the market. As in most good markets, it’s a rabbit warren where what seems to be one entrance/exit soon leads you on a merry dance round stalls of all kinds. If you need a knife, a bra, a bale of tobacco or a massive dried catfish, Gulu has got you covered. There is a tobacco seller in the market with skin pigmentation which looks like she is standing under dappled shade. On a long line of identical stalls, she stands out, beautiful and mysterious.
The best pork joint is in the market too, behind a green hanging and marked by a tall chimney belching smoke. Pork joints are a strange institution, usually either set up beside a bar or inside a very basic shack. This one was the latter. These places, which are always referred to as joints, serve only pork with a mix of cassava (boiled or fried, though boiled is better) and tomatoes. You go to the counter and order, though the only difference between orders is quantity as the menu is one item. The pork is bought in sticks (one stick is the quantity of pork which will fit on a kebab), and in the market service time is well under two minutes.
It’s a good town, nice and peaceful, but god I wish this storm would just happen.


About Muzungu

I’m a Uganda-based freelance photographer (and occasional writer) working for a broad range of clients including NGOs, newspapers and magazines and development agencies. My work has taken me across East Africa, South America and Europe, and previous clients include USAID, the World Bank and the East African. I also work on personal documentary projects in my spare time. If you’d like to hire me or to know more, please feel free to get in touch.
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2 Responses to Only Pork Moves Fast in Gulu

  1. peter zulu says:

    that coment about miss karuma wasnt worth it as organiser of this meaningful event i think it appropiate for you to apologise miss karuma falls 2010 is as important as what ever efforts you are doing in spreading the message that the war is over so do the needful
    event organizer

    • Muzungu says:

      No apology, I’m afraid, as you have got the wrong end of the stick and started flailing it around. I was not commenting on the meaningfulness or otherwise of the Miss Karuma Falls competition (I was, in fact, invited to judge, but had to turn the opportunity most regretfully due to work commitments), I was commenting on the entirely unnecessary defacing of a piece of public art. In my opinion sculptures are not suitable sites for flyposting, be it a politician’s election poster or a poster for a beauty contest. If you want to make a town look like the war is over, not littering is a good start.

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