Monday, July 12, 2010

Bombing in Kampala

I’ve got some other events and happenings I really want to write about. I especially need to go back and write about the pictures posted here, and relate the experience of my first full day in Kampala. Which I’ll do in the next day or two, but first I need to talk about what happened last night.

As many of you know last night (Sunday July 11) during the World Cup game an Ethiopian restaurant was bombed in Kampala. I haven’t had internet access so it’s hard to fact check right now, but from what I’ve heard throughout the day several people (I think around 60 or more) were killed in the attack, many more were injured, and officials aren’t sure who’s responsible. Fortunately our group left Kampala Sunday afternoon to head to the site of the first seminar in Fort Portal, which is several hours West of Kampala. (I’m not sure at the moment how far it is from Kampala to Fort Portal, typically I believe it’s around a 4 hour drive. However our drive took more like 7 or 8 hours but that’s another story).

It was really shocking to wake up to the news this morning. The first report I heard was very brief. Right as I turned the TV on I heard a CNN anchor say something like “Last night’s bombing in Kampala has killed at least 30 people so far, and it is still not clear who is responsible for the attack.” The anchor then seamlessly transitioned into the weather and handed off to a meteorologist.

I really didn’t know what to make of it. I actually remember thinking “is there some other Kampala I don’t know about?” I thought if this happened 8 or so hours ago in a county’s capitol city, during the biggest sporting event in the world, there would be a little more information than that. Right?

So I flipped around through the 4 channels available to me. One of the African stations was showing footage taken at the scene of the attack and at the hospital following it. It was rather odd because the footage was not accompanied by any commentary or information, it was just raw footage of people being treated or slowly moved from one location to another. At one point the camera followed hospital workers as they took a body into the room – which looked like a walk-in refrigerator – where they were keeping the dead. The camera man made a point of focusing on the blood left behind on the floor outside the door.

And none of this made any real impact with me. I simply could not process that this had all taken place in the city I was just in less than 12 hours earlier. I’m still not sure what the proximity is between where I slept the night before – in Professor Youngblood’s apartment – and where the bombing took place, but it is safe to assume that only a few miles separate the two.

Honestly I really still don’t know what to make of this. And as professor Youngblood, Andi, and I finished our breakfast this morning, and headed out to start the first day of the first peace journalism seminar, I think all of us could be forgiven for wondering if we were wasting our time here. Not to mention putting ourselves needlessly in danger in the process.

But if this was a perfectly safe place to be we wouldn’t be here anyway. We may not change the world doing this but we sure won’t make any difference hiding.

No comments:

Post a Comment