The district of Apac is situated almost in the middle of Uganda. The southern district border are the Lakes Kyoga and Kwania, but on the other side of these Nile lakes is another district, named Nakasongola. Now, Nakasongola is bang in the middle of the country. So Apac is just north of the middle, as it were.
The interesting thing about this position is that a place which is almost in the middle, and relatively close (250km) to the political and commercial hub of Kampala, can be like an island: isolated, difficult to reach and perceivably off the map.
Like on an island, only those with a purpose for visiting Apac come to Apac. People on the move to northern Uganda, whether businessmen, government or organisational types, prefer to take a much longer route around the district, for reasons of infrastructure. The route through Apac is the shortest and thereby most fuel efficient, but it entails crossing the Nile via ferry which means subjecting oneself to the tyranny of a fixed schedule and possible break downs, delays etc. Crossing the river via a bridge, like that over Karuma Falls 70 km further north, is the more flexible and therefore preferred option for people going to northern Uganda.
With people come new ideas. Every visitor to a place brings his thoughts. The isolated nature of Apac in geographical and structural terms therefore also has impacted on the pool of ideas and ways of doing things. Access is often thought of as important for production; and indeed it is. But it is also important as a means of injecting new ideas. Perhaps an indicator of the level of introduction of new ideas in a country like Uganda concerns the extent to which patriarchal systems are being questioned. In Apac gender equality is so below the radar that it is a non-issue. Like an island people, the Langi men and women of Apac continue to see women as inferior and acts according to their views. One wonders whether the funds for ‘community sensitisation’, ‘dialogue workshops’, ‘gender budgeting tools’ and ‘empowerment’ activities would be more effective if diverted towards the construction of a bridge over the Nile.