The noise from the football game just down the hill from our house became so loud and exciting that Cher and I had to leave our little building project and go down to see what was so thrilling. It was a match between Nyankunde’s CME nursing school and the neighbouring village of Irumu that was 2-1 in favour of our Nyankunde team with only 10 minutes left to play. It was exciting to the end and as we watched we were struck with the incongruities of life here.
Only last night we were jolted to attention at around 9:00 P.M. by the sharp crack of AK rounds going off. It was quick but there were 3 bursts of rounds that sounded like they came from at least 2 places which were a ways apart. The last bit was on automatic and I ran to the back room where Cher was to see if she was alright. The shots were in range to hit the house but as we turned off all the lights and closed the curtains I checked for muzzle flashes or anything that would give away a position and I saw nothing. The MAF radios came to life as we discussed what was going on and what we might do. Hunkering down is often the best plan so we hunkered, on floors in hallways and pantries.
Almost immediately the village came to life in a dramatic way. Drums, school bells and every clanging thing in the area clamoured with amazing effect. The people started to shout and you could see how walls might, after a few days, actually fall from the sheer noise of people shouting. It had been a while since the last shots and I ventured out to see machete and spear welding villagers shouting as they rushed up the hill behind the soccer field were we later enjoyed the joyful match, a snaking line of lights winding up the mountain. It was pretty exciting to see and I was glad they were not after me. We were also quite proud of the reaction of the people in response to the shooting. Not long ago similar things happened here and everyone fled the village, the memory of recent massacres fresh in their minds. But not this time! They were not putting up with it now.
In the end, it turned out to be bandits and not militia which is somewhat better. I went to check on friends as things calmed a bit but there was shouting for hours and we were told that young men patrolled the hills behind our house all night long and will continue to do so for the next week. The pleasant Saturday afternoon football match and cheering for the home side was as normal as a day in England watching the footy and quite a change from the serious defensive shouting of only a few hours before. Encouraging and very incongruous, I must say.