The Acholi People

Acholi-Children-1024x768In the forests of Northern Uganda the Acholi people who live there were struck by an outbreak of disease which had no apparent explanation, so they assumed that it must be a gemo – or evil spirit borne disease – which had hit some members of their village. They were also certain who it was that had summoned the gemo, one of the brothers of  villager who had moved on to another area as he got promoted and wealthier, leaving his less fortunate kin behind. He had failed to share in his gain, and was not humble, thus unleashing the gemo. So certain was his family and his old village, that they sent a group of men to kill him in his new home, which would, of course, stop the disease.

They failed, but in the meantime another group of men had come under suspicion of having summoned the gemo and all four of those men were killed with machetes as they worked their fields.

Later, as too many people and apes fell sick, the villagers realized that that it could not be magic or evil spirits. In the words of one of them, “Sorcery does not effect animals.” They realized that his was something else, requiring long ago learned methods and efforts.

Isn’t it odd that today, instead of attacking the disease, instead of directing our efforts to solutions and proper care for the sick, we too look for the gemo that is causing all of this? The politicization of the Ebola crises is eerily similar to the way the villagers tried to blame other people for summoning spirits, just a 21st Century twist since nobody here will accept the idea that ethereal sprite summoned by the fortune of others is the cause of all this brouhaha (or will they?).

The Acholi many years ago figured out that when the occasional outbreak of the strange illness sweeps through their lands, they have to take actions. Even though the gemo might be the cause, their reactions can help to solve the outbreak. They immediately quarantine the victims into their own huts, they only allow people who have survived the disease to treat them. They stop eating meat and they stop having sex. Lastly, the suspend one of their most beautiful and touching customs – they stop the “love touch” at funerals. This is a moment when each mourner says a personal goodbye and kisses the deceased. They’ve been doing this for decades, and they are still round after a number of outbreaks. We could still learn a thing or two, even from people who think that the Ebola outbreak is caused by evil spirits.

Source material – EBOLA: The Natural and Human History by David Quammen (2014)

I am aware that the Torah has prohibitions against this sort of thing, but I guess that the Koran does not?

The State Government continues to tell us that “things are getting better,” but yesterday came the announcement that 200 JOBS WILL BE LOST IN SALIDA as American Medical Response outsources billing jobs to Maryland.

Giants and Royals for the World Series. Finally a World Series that will be worth watching…

Don’t forget that 1pm today is the deadline for the Kim Jong FUn Caption this photo contest. The most likes – if approved by Kim Jong Dave – wins the delicious basket o’ Fiscalini cheese from our dear sponsor, Fiscalini Cheese.


Posted on October 17, 2014, in News & Notes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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