For the last 7 days, I have been in mourning whilst trying to adhere to the medical advice given me on resting. Sunday 11th July brought the realities of international conflict home to fellow Ugandans and visitors alike. It was a night when most persons had settled down in to the spirit of the closing final football game to the first world cup to be hosted on African soil. The world cup in itself had provided its very own surprises, but much more lasting pain was to be visited upon the residents of Kampala.
In the minutes leading up to extra-time, I received news of the bomb attack at the Kyaddondo Rugby club and at the Ethiopian Village eatery. Not being familiar with either places, I sought clarification in a bemused manner hopping it was a hoax. The phone lines became jammed at this point and I checked the net instead. To my sadness, it proved to be a reality – bombs had gone off and lives had been losts with many injured not getting the rapid emergency help they needed not being able to get through. My medical background took hold and soon I was looking at ways of alerting persons on the ground I knew could be able to assist if they hadn’t already been called upon. The frustration on my part was in knowing so many injured could be helped but the resources and infrastructure was not in place. This frustration soon gave way to anger – why would a developing country like Uganda engage in situations such as the resulting attacks without having adequate cover? The emergency services in place were already pitiful and the nation’s medical system was just about equivalent to a band-aid. For months if not years, the medical service industry has been labouring for more resources and is heavily reliant on donations and charity. The local fire service is virtually non-existent and the police force, save for the top cream is poorly equipped to even handle an immediate crime scene without evidence being corrupted be it knowingly or unknowingly! So the anger in me rose at the very persons in governance for endangering the lives of innocent civilians by opting to engage without proper assessment or planning in issues that have fatal consquences on the security of her people. I had to work hard at remembering I’m on bed rest and shouldn’t allow myself to get over-excited! So I opted to keep myself to what I could do in support of the persons on ground affected by the bombings. But like a child that is fed after a bout of incessant crying – it was hard to focus on the support without the occasional grumblings…
Reflecting back over the loss of lives, injuries and reasons or solutions to what transpired, my mind drifted to the other side of the coin. The thoughts or reasons as to why these persons opt to carry out such devastating acts on others. I recalled an article way back in April 2003 just before Saddam’s regime came to an end and a boy of 12 was orphaned following a shelling of his shack of a home by our Allied armies. Or the continued war in Afghanistan that is affecting countless civilians where the body count is no longer mentioned unless it involves one of our own soldiers here that we know of. Nor of the continued suicide bombings in Pakistan, India and Iraq which still rage – innocent lives continue to be claimed. This is the common theme that binds all of us caught up in this madness of point scoring using arms. Innocent lives are the gambling chips – they are the soft targets of politics.
How befitting therefore would a statement such as this be?
“When people decry civilian deaths caused by the U.S. government, they’re aiding propaganda efforts. In sharp contrast, when civilian deaths are caused by bombers who hate America, the perpetrators are evil and those deaths are tragedies.
When they put bombs in cars and kill people, they’re uncivilized killers. When we put bombs on missiles and kill people, we’re upholding civilized values. When they kill, they’re terrorists. When we kill, we’re striking against terror.” Norman Solomon, “Orwellian Logic 101 – A Few Simple Lessons,” at FAIR: http://www.fair.org/media-beat/980827.html
I don’t condone the acts of those who took away lives of innocent young persons in last Sunday’s attack in the twin bombing strike – indeed, I’ve lost friends and associates in these incidents who were very instrumental to some of the causes I greatly admire. I do implore the Ugandan leader however to put humanity first when making decisions that could have a far deeper detrimental effect on her young developing nation. If not for him, then for his grandchildren he should act; for his legacy is one that will stand to mark his position in history. The challenges Uganda faces are many already – without taking on more armed conflict whereby her citiziens do not fully comprehend the stakes or even share in the loot. Ugandans have been through so many hells – now that the security afforded through decades of civil wars is in place, it would be great for all her people to enjoy this security in ways that are feasible.
I pray to the gods, that the blood of my three brothers in addition to all their co-patriots in battles fought alongside Mr President in the bush war, that theirs was not just waste.