Jul 29, 2010

Be there

Jul 14, 2010

To leave Somalia or Not to?

Even the most vivid of descriptions may not explain the Kampala bomb blasts. But after all that happened the question resonating around the political circles, pundits and foreign policy analysts is if Uganda should leave Somalia or stay? So how did we get to Somalia?

In 2006, the Islamic courts union was ruling most of Somalia but was later ousted by Ethiopian troops. In 2007, the African Union decided a peacekeeping mission was needed to back the Federal Transitional Government which the Ethiopians were also backing. The Ethiopian Troops later pulled out to allow AMISOM takeover. Uganda and Burundi are the only countries under AMISOM arrangement in Somalia. Other countries seemed to have backed off.
The transitional government is neither in control or not, its just somewhere in the middle. The AU mission is not to liberate Somalia but to keep peace.
Somali Islamists then started threatening to attack Uganda and Burundi for their involvement in the affairs of the country. But do they speak for the whole country, I doubt that.
Over the past one year, instability has returned to Mogadishu with more ruthless attacks against AMISOM and the transitional government. This according to foreign policy analysts was a sign the Islamists were determined to get rid of any foreigner in the country.

Al-Shabab, the group that claimed responsibility for the bombings had been threatening to attack Uganda. Intelligence in the country knew there would an attack but they couldn't predict where.
The militia's top leader, Mukhtar Abdurahman Abu Zubeyr, accused African Union peacekeeping forces in Mogadishu of committing "massacres" against Somalis. The militant group also threatened it would attack Burundi and also said more attacks maybe coming Uganda's way.
Security has been heightened in the country in the wake of the attacks, there is fear among the people and vigilance is on the rise. The Somali community has already condemned the bombings. The community in Uganda has been reporting isolated incidences where they have been targeted by some locals. Its tense and there are no assurances from the authorities that we are safe. The work of terrorists doesn't mean that every Somalian is involved, or any Muslim.

Some people who are doubting that the Al-shabab is responsible for the attacks. There are various theories on who could be responsible?
- It could be a work of our own security forces, in trying to divert the international community from the 2011 election. However one would wonder why they'd decide to kill their own people.
- The work of the opposition to try and find ways of putting pressure on the government to withdraw from Somalia.
- The government trying to justify a change of Strategy and sending more troops to Somalia.
- The work of someone who wants this government out.
- If it was Al-shabab why didn't it target the 20,000 people in Nakivubo Stadium. Why did they go for smaller crowds if they wanted more body count.
All these theories however cannot be verified, even the claim from Al-shabab also looks vaguely put. Usually when a terrorist group carries out an attack, they claim responsibility immediately. This wasn't the case with these attacks.
Is it about time we withdrew our troops since the militant group threatened to taunt Uganda unless they leave Somalia? If we withdraw the attacks may stop and everyone here would be happy. It would clearly show that our foreign policy on Somalia backfired. With our already porous borders the militants may decide to abandon their threats. When our troops left for Somalia, did we ask ourselves why other African countries did not their troops? The answer is obvious, the heeded to the threats of the Islamic militants. But then if we withdraw will we have helped the problem in Somalia because we leave, the militants will take over Mogadishu and start running the country and this will solidify the presence of Al-quaeda in Africa. This will be a base and any ally of the United States maybe seen as an enemy, so if we pull out way may just let Somalia become a great threat to the regions security.
So should we stay? Withdrawing in the first place would be a political disaster to the NRM rule led by President Museveni. The analogy for us staying is that what if Tanzania had withdrawn from Uganda in 1978, then Uganda wouldn't have survived the regime of Idi Amin. Now withdrawing would mean we have abandoned what we started. But in Somalia we are not there as Freedom fighters we are just a peacekeeping force, so that eliminates the analogy. The Transition Government we are backing is struggling to also hold itself together.
Secondly is that we can stay there because we are trying to make the region safer but one would wonder why Kenya which is a neighbor to Somalia has no troops in the Country. We are carrying the weight of the whole region.
Withdrawing would mean we have handed the country (Somalia) to the Islamist militants who are not appreciated by the population there. It would be giving the people hope and then taking it away from them.
Uganda's role in Somalia is hailed by almost all leaders but why are they not helping. If we are going to stay in Somalia then we should have more troops from other countries or also allow it to become a UN peacekeeping force to allow other state actors from outside Africa.
If Al-shabab indeed carried out the attacks then mission should be changed from a peacekeeping and directly do the fighting so the militants can be eliminated. Again this is subject to debate. This would clearly justify why Uganda and Burundi should stay. After the Black Sunday attacks in Uganda its clear that the two governments are going to stay but it might be for much more than just peacekeeping.

All Ugandans want is to return to their lives as normal. Kabalagala suburb, well known for its hangout joints and party life would want to have its blossoming trend to continue. The assurance needed is safety.

Possibly related links 

Jul 12, 2010

Eleventh of seventh

The sirens, the wailing, the football and the bomb. The tale of lives lost for the love of the game. A tale of innocent lives having fun. I don’t even know how to begin this post. Emotionally, physically, and psychologically, people have been hurt. A nation celebrating Africa’s World Cup, a once in a life time opportunity and before they could even watch the winning goal someone decides they should go.

Local media, at the time concentrated on the football, there was no report on the blasts at the time they occurred. A media black-out. Self-imposed I must say as football was sought to be the issue. Not even our national broadcaster. Facebook and Twitter seemed to be the only source of information, as information trickled in. Our Televisions, very good at showing soaps also lacked in providing us with information about the blasts. The sentiment all over the social media is the disappointment in the local coverage. They could not even interrupt regular programming? I do not understand. You surprised? I am not.

As Kampala woke up to the news, it was all sombre. In the taxi’s I used in the morning after the blasts it was all quiet, when the taxi slowly glided down the hill near the National Hospital Mulago, people begun cursing. Near the Mortuary it was the same as people cursed again. No one wanted to talk about the blasts at the Kyadondo Rugby Grounds and the Ethiopian Restaurant. It was a sombre Monday after the horrific events of Sunday.

Each second that ticks, each minute that counts and each hour that we move through, in the back of my mind I tell myself it could have been me. Or you, or even that one. But it wasn’t like that. Whoever who did this probably watched these people slowly glide into deep sleep. Watched human flesh fly around and laughed away. They knew what they were doing. 

We were warned but the bomb blasts were a surprise, shocking, heart breaking and horrific. It happened. We saw it, we heard, looked at inhumane pictures of corpses helplessly resting in those plastic chairs. And who has the answers to explain the 74(number subject to change) dead people? I don’t know.
But there is one more thing, we still stand up, hold our handbags, clutch our briefcases and find our way to survival. We do not give up like that, we do not lay low, but we move forward for the optimism is the light that shines within us. Persistence lives within us.

Our pearl that sits in the middle of the African continent shall forever prevail. And then instead of facing down, we shall look up, look at the times we had enjoyed with our loved ones and we shall decide that those are the moments we want to live. And I shall openly tell that “enemy of love,”
“you have failed, for we still have life.”

 What you have brought to us is fear, and that we will do our best for I know it’s not easy.

On the eleventh of seventh I will though I’ll look to the skies and shout “FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY.”

Jul 7, 2010

When a flower withers

He is saddened by the silence in the room. The echoes of his own voice blare around the room. He is silent. He is still. He is thinking. Endless thoughts of the flaws that his life has long surpassed. He remembers the jilting, the inglorious friends, the adventures and the love life that he always scored below the 20% mark.
"All this is history," he says to himself

The silence gets louder and louder but yet he see's people around him, he is embedded in his thought.s Only if she could eavesdrop, then she would know what he is thinking. She doesn't know she is the cause of his thinking. She smiles and continues to find joy in her life.

The skyline is lit with stars. There are less than those he saw when it was full moon. The day he made the wish to moon. The day he smiled alone, staring at the skies. 

He moves out of the room. Into the isolation of the hopeless and darkness of the nightlife. He walks in the alley of dry leaves and a well paved walkway. Facing the skies, the bats and owls rule the night life. He is focused on the Sky. 1,2,3,4,5........ he counts the stars. Even the shooting star is absent on the night. The night is silent. When he stops thinking, all he can hear are the leaves tapping the paved walk way as the chilling wind rules the atmosphere.

The streets are deserted but one place seems to be open. "The Broken Arrow" The bar with its rugged signpost that only reads as "Broke W" is his destination. 

The bar is not empty, because its full. No music plays in this bar. He enters and is welcomed by the sound of Cue balls at the pool table and Glasses of beer banging the table or kissing the lips of the people drinking. He doesn't care who is in the bar. He sits, head faced to the rugged looking waitress with an Irish accent. 
Its a beer bar so he has no options. First one is a gulp, 15seconds. Second one is another 20seconds. The third one is 40seconds and the other three he takes are 45minutes each. 

He is still thinking. Thinking about the flower that never was, the flower he couldn't sustain, the flower that can't survive autumn. His flower withered as he watched it. He may never get it back. Its gone.


Butterflies and Hurricanes - Muse
Addicted - Ryan Leslie feat Cassie