Monday, 23 August 2010

Sorry! Look away becasue the Pictures You are going to see may be disturbing

This is what happened when Torrorists struck the capital of Uganda -Kampala

I had arrived in Kampala Uganda to attend the AU summit just 3 days after Ugandans were burying loved ones cut to shreds by terrorist bombs in the morning of their promising young lives .It was quite a sombre and disturbing moment. The Uganda president had declared a war on terrorism that week and pledged to increase the number of Uganda troops in Mogadishu in order to disterbalise Al shabaab in their neighbourhood and their Al Qaeda sponsors. But before i left London, i was amazed at the level of response from a few members of the opposition in the Uganda UK Diaspora and a few Somali friends at my local internet cafe in East London. They could not understand why Uganda WAS in Somalia in the first place . Some said they deserved it .Some of the questions i was asked were like: Is Uganda the most powerful African country to sustain an intervention in Somalia ? do they have popular support in Somalia? How peaceful is Uganda to make peace in another country? Does Uganda have any interests in Somalia? Is Uganda protecting Somalis or One person in the name of TFG?

I did explain to them that Uganda did not enter Somalia spoiling for a fight with Al shabaab or the locals , that Uganda contingent went to carry out the mandate of the African Union mission in Somalia(AMISOM).That while facing daily ‘wahala’ from the militants and several loss of lives , Uganda troops have acted with extreme restraint in protecting the loss of Somali lives , property and government institutions, while providing humanitarian assistance like providing medical care .These friends of mine in London could take none of that.

As i reached Kampala , security was tight not only because of the terrorist attack , but also the fact that delegates for the AU summit had started arriving. It took me another 2 days to get clearance from the police headquarters and the Local Police in Kabalagala, Uganda media Centre in the President’s office to be allowed to visit the Bomb sites. I even met and spoke to the lady of the Ethiopian joint that was bombed in Kabalagala .This is when the scale of what had happened hit me .I met and spoke to lots of journalist friends that i know in town from Aljazeera, CNN, New vision , Bukeede, The new times of Rwanda , BBC,etc and the view was the same ,Uganda should stay in Somalia .

Part of my schedule was to go to Northern Uganda after the summit, as i was driving along the Kampala – Masindi road , i kept asking myself , when Al Qaeda killed and maimed hundreds of innocent people in the streets of Nairobi and Dar es salaam in 1998, did any east African country have any troops in Somalia? No!. Did any of the innocent lives lost challenged their ideology then ? No!. By the time i had reached Paraa safari Lodge in Murchison National park whre i spent a night , i had come to the conclusion in my mind that this war is NOT a Ugandan Vs Al shabab war. It is a war against all of us within the region. Today , it might be Uganda , and tomorrow somewhere else , because the kind of ideology that Al shabaab carries is not territorial, its about bringing a new order in the international system along the lines are either with us or with them.... and they wont stop killing!

As i boarded British Airways back to London , it now dawned on me that July 11 attacks in Uganda presents a dawn of new reality in East Africa .Life as we knew it had changed and that the first line of defence will be individual persons. The decisions to send more boots to defend the rights of our Somali brothers and sisters is both a duty to them and also in our own national security interest. But as for Uganda as a country , they need to rethink about their strategy in Somalia .Is it worth the price they are paying for protecting the air port and presidential palace ? critics are yet convinced .They say that Uganda forces contribution could be highly invisible and relevant , if the Somalia issue was treated as a global problem than a Ugandan one .

Lastly , we should all remember that had it not been the interevetion of Tanzania forces in Uganda , we could still be having the likes of Idd amin around terrorising their own people

e v e n t
Memorial vigil for Sean Rigg
5:00pm, 21 August 2010 --- The second memorial vigil for Sean Rigg, who died in police custody at Brixton Police Station in 2008.

e v e n t
Seminar for medico-legal report writers
5:00pm, 7 September 2010 --- A seminar offering practical advice on writing medico-legal reports for immigration matters.

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment has published a new report examining the impact of the quality of local green spaces on the health and wellbeing of people in six deprived and ethnically diverse areas.
Download the report at: (pdf file, 1.17mb