uganda, refugee camp, USAID, manchestar united, moesgaard museum, de etnografiske samlinger, ethnography, collections, museum, aarhus, denmark

Door from Ugandan refugee camp

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Africa

A bright red door signalling that the owner of the house is a big fan of ’MANCHESTAR UNITED’ is probably not the first thing, you would expect to see, when visiting a home in a former camp for internally displaced people. Yet here it is.

Made from pieces of scrap wood and old cans of cooking oil, distributed by the World Food Programme and USAID, the door once protected the home of a young woman named Alice, who lived in a village called Awach in Northern Uganda. During a civil war, which ravaged Northern Uganda between 1986 and 2008, people had to use what was available, when creating homes for their families. Such as old cooking oil cans.

Can you imagine what this door has seen? First, an American cargo plane full of humanitarian aid, and then the daily life in an IDP camp in wartime. Later, it witnessed the arrival of peace and the end of violence (perhaps this is when it became a Manchester United fan?), until one day, an anthropologist came by, befriended the inhabitants of the house, and ended up buying a new door in exchange for the old. The door was then loaded onto another plane, this time headed for Denmark, where it is now opened and closed every day, by curious museum visitors who, behind the door, can read about the war in Northern Uganda, and learn why reburying the dead is a way to make peace with the past.

Perhaps you might visit it too, and say hello?

// Sophie Seebach

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