Grahamstown, and journalism, was never about being a reporter. Like anything really, truly worth doing, it was about something bigger. It was in part about sharpening my storytelling. But also that over the years, travel brought me to realise how deep the shadow at the edge of the world I know might be. And because journalism was the closest vehicle to that space, it was what I ended up studying this last year. Always with an eye to stepping out at some point to find this edge of my world and push it again. Which was how Naomi’s text message found me on Monday afternoon and why I have had little proper sleep since. It’s time for another adventure you see.
Naomi, as you may recall, was the person with the eyes that I met on the Kapiri Mposhi train in December last year as I made my way from Cape Town to Cairo. She had worked in Northern Uganda for an extended period – a place which, if you know much about recent events in the area, you will know is not a common stop for tourist traffic. It also represents, in some fashion, this edge of my world – sort of a ‘here be dragons’ zone that I know about only through what I read in the news. Which is actually sparse, compared to the coverage lavished on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (where Rwanda stands implicated in possible genocide) to the West and Southern Sudan (going to a referendum on splitting the country in 2011) to the North.
The gist of the message was to the effect that there are stories here to be told. And I should come, find them and do so. The timing was exactly, suspiciously right. No firm end of year plans yet. A special on flights to Entebbe when I looked. My study program ended (and me now a journalist – in credentials at least). In short, every reason in the world to go and nothing but inertia holding me back.
The next night, I booked the flight, and I have been thinking about it ever since. I’m excited. I’m terrified. I feel responsible. Here is a chance to report on Things that Matter, and I intend to make the absolute most of it. There is so much still to do. Equipment to find; and some skilled collaborators, if I can. Logistics and research. It’s a small world to move in the next eight weeks, but move it I shall. You can be absolutely sure that this blog will come along on the journey. Wherever the road goes indeed.