Ugandans Living Abroad React to 7-11 Twin Attacks

Saturday, July 17, 2010
By ugandansabroad

By Rebecca Harshbarger–

Raymond Baguma is a 29-year-old journalist working abroad in London, based at the Times.  A natural news junkie by trade, Baguma was already closely following local news at home when he learned of the al-Shabaab bombing in Kampala on 7-11.  To his horror, he learned it happened at a football event at Kyadondo Rugby Club organized by New Vision, the media company he also reports for in Uganda.

Ugandans living abroad, like journalist Raymond Baguma, were stunned by the news and images of their homeland on 7-11.

“It was scary, because I was concerned about my colleagues, as well as their families,” Baguma told AfricaConnections (Ugandans Abroad is a pilot project of AfricaConnections).  One of Raymond’s close friends lost a relative in the bombing, which killed 76 people in the rugby club and an Ethiopian restaurant in Kampala.  The odds of Kampala being a target for terrorism have always been considered relatively low.

So far, about 20 people have been arrested in connection with the bombings, and 60 U.S. FBI agents have flown to Kampala, according to reporting by the Daily Monitor.  The U.S. already provides military support to Uganda in different operations, and several Americans were killed and injured during the bombings, including an Invisible Children volunteer.  Analysts believe Uganda was targeted for their involvement in Somalia with the African Union.  The African Union will be holding a summit in Kampala later this month.

Ugandan community associations abroad immediately expressed concerned and support for their beloved homeland.  The Ugandan Chicago association, for example, quickly released a statement condemning the bombing, and expressing support for their homeland.

“This tragedy has greatly touched and humbled not only the people of Uganda but the whole world at large. It is such ungodly acts that lead one to question the hearts and mind of such people who attain satisfaction in the sufferings of others,” read a statement created by the Uganda Community in Greater Chicago”.  ”Each and every one of us has at one point in their lives in one way or the other been affected by terrorists, and knows the pain the people of Uganda are going through now.”

John Bisegerwa, the chair of the Uganda Community in Greater Chicago, remembers bombings being more common in Uganda in the `1980s.  ”Bombs were very common in the 1990s, but not massive as this was,” he told AfricaConnections.  One of Bisergwa’s friend’s young brother was actually mistaken to be dead after the bombing, and he was taken to the mortuary before he was rescued.  Bisegerwa called his family and friends after hearing of the news on CNN, MSNBC, and NPR, concerned over their safety, and disappointed in the “barbaric acts” that took place.

Despite the potential threat to Uganda’s security that the country’s role in the African Union plays, many in the diaspora do not want Ugandan troops to leave Somalia.  ”The UPDF has brought relative security to Somalia,” said Bisegerwa.  ”It is not a good idea for Uganda to leave Somalia, that will be conceding to cowards.  Our troops will stay, and if it means fighting head-on with the terrorists, that will happen and UPDF will prevail.”

Baguma doesn’t see any easy path out of Somalia for Uganda, nor does he necessarily want one.  ”The threat of terrorism is real in the East African region, whether Uganda is there [in Somalia] or not,” he said.  ”The African Union troops’ absence in Somalia would only be postponing a problem.  At this time, I can only offer prayers and sympathies.”

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2 Responses to “Ugandans Living Abroad React to 7-11 Twin Attacks”

  1. Thanks for carrying some of the contents in our statement, however, we Ugandans in Chicago are known as “Uganda Community in Greater Chicago” not (association)we would appreciate when wroting about us refered to the same in “…”

    On the other hand about the interview on phone, we will have one in mid September or October I will call you to confirm.

    Thanks for your good work.

    Bisegerwa John

    Uganda Community in Greater Chicago Inc.
    Tel: 847-652-4510
    P.O BOX 25097 CHICAGO, IL.60625

  2. Sorry about that John, I just corrected it now. Thanks for your feedback. I am really looking forward to the interview. Also, please let me know about community events going on in Chicago, or other announcements, would love to share them. Have a great day, and take care. Becky


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