The weekend of 12th October had us in Uganda’s land of the Jewels, Karamoja. We had pitched camp in Moroto, widely acclaimed as the capital city of Uganda’s Northern Region, for our Northern Region of the 2019 Y+ beauty pageant. Life has thrived in Moroto for a very long time, as Archeological finding Morotopithecus, dated 20.6 million years ago can testify. Backed with its rich culture, mountainous terrain and balance between postmodernism and raw Karimojong tradition, we couldn’t find a better place to isolate beauty and transitional ideas.
Our journey was 460 km, and when done, we got right into it. We started with a community dialogue on Friday 11th at guess where; the District Headquarters! Probably one of our best signs of the commitment of the North was this fact, as it showed how willing the political leaders were to work with the community in the fight against HIV, further evidenced by the HIV prevalence rate that stands at 1.3% in the district. We assessed this commitment further, and one of the contributors who preferred not to be named noted that the biggest challenge lies in the traditional betrothal of young girls and low drive to test and treat HIV.
“Some men here have never tested for HIV, yet keep taking on more wives from time to time. These wives are sometimes young girls forced into the marriages, and they can contract HIV without any knowledge, and they can barely stand up to their husbands” she said.
Now, much as we pride in culture, we figure there is a key ask here; it starts by convincing the men to test. Probably our next drive will be custom made to drive the men of Karamoja to step up and know their status so we can protect our young girls.
However, we worked with those who were willing first. We moved all our vibe to Moroto South Division, where once again the power of edutainment was demonstrated. With our flash mob, we collected a crowd of well over 200 people, 100 of whom were tested with 2 testing positive. This was backed up with a drive through the town where we distributed 28500 condoms to more than 600 people, ensuring enough supply even to those who have sex as regularly as daily. Covering all bases you might call it.
On Saturday 12th, we held our auditions, attracting 16 young people. They all showcased different styles in design, question approach and ideas. With our love for diversity, Miss Taliba Zainab and Mr. Yangiro Charles were crowned Queen and King in the North.
We will be looking forward to seeing them at the Grand Finale. With such suaveness, we prepare to take on the Western Region. Until then, the North remembers.