It was supposed to be a night of jubilation across Africa, even without an African team in the final. South Africa hosted a great World Cup and silenced the critics who claimed that Africa did not have the ability or resources to host such a major tournament. Millions tuned in around the world to watch the closing ceremony of the greatest game in the world. The buzzing of vuvuzelas tore through the skies for one last time at this tournament. A night which usually ends with spectators flying their flags high in celebration of the victory instead sent shock waves across Africa and the Diaspora. Three bombs exploded, one struck an Ethiopian restaurant and two exploded at a rugby center. So far there have been 74 reported fatalities and many others left the scene with injuries. Of the casualties twenty eight are Ugandan, one Irish, one Indian, one American and 11 Ethiopian. What could have been a night of joy for many soccer fans in Uganda ended in mourning and desperation to determine the fate of friends and loved ones.
The initial word from the investigation pointed in the direction of Al-Shabaab a Somali based terrorist organization. This group had threatened staging attacks in Uganda and other African Nations that are contributing troops to the peace keeping effort in Somalia. These allegations proved significant when the Somali Islamist militant movement claimed responsibility for these attacks. “And the best of men have promised and they have delivered,” said an Arabic statement issued by Al-Shabaab’s press office and obtained by CNN. “Blessed and exalted among men — (taking) full responsibility. …We wage war against the 6,000 collaborators; they have received their response—-May Allah accept these martyrs who carried out the blessed operation and exploded themselves in the middle of the infidels,”
Africa continues to be one of the most troubled continents in the world and it is saddening to add terrorism to our list of problems. This attack is different from previous attacks on African soil such as the 1998 bombing at the U.S Embassy in Kenya. The Al-Shabaab are currently directly targeting Africans. It is a very sad day when Africans inflict fear on fellow Africans. We have had our share of civil wars and genocide but terrorism is a different beast all together. Acts of terror instill fear in the masses and completely transform the state of mind of a Nation. Those of us who have lived in America and witnessed events since the Sept 11th attack on the World Trade Center understand how one event can change the livelihood of a people. America has used and invested a significant amount of recourses to fight terrorism. How are African Nations going to contain and respond to acts of terrorism? Our resources and intelligence are on a limited budget, the borders are more-less open, smuggling of items in and outside nations is rampant and some government don’t even have full control of their nations. This leaves our citizens vulnerable and caged in a corner.
As Africans we have to speak out in a unified voice and fight on a united front against these knuckleheads who intend to bring terrorism to the motherland. Africans with all our problems are still a vibrant people who enjoy having a good time. The last thing we need is additional anxiety while sipping our Tusker, Waragi, Bell Lager and enjoying the beautiful game. Indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians without knowing their identities and calling it a blessed operation against infidels is a despicable act of cowardice and hatred.
This event should be a wakeup call for the African Union (AU) to urgently invest resources towards failed States such as Somalia. Failed states are becoming a hotbed for terrorists and radicalized groups that can pose major security threats. The days of Africans not being targets of terrorism are over. Initiatives towards strengthening Somalia should be on top of the AU agenda. Critical at this juncture is a need to re-examine the mission of the current 6,000 African Union peacekeepers in Somalia. In order to have a functional Somali government, the mission of the AU troops ought to be expanded not only towards humanitarian and peacekeeping but engage in combat operations to flush these groups out of Somalia. This would require a surge in AU troops and additional contribution from other African countries. Somalia will remain on the course of a failed State until the AU offers this government a fighting chance and an adequate umbrella to establish control over the entire territory. If no action is taken, Al-Shabaab and pirates will continue to roam and cause havoc and instability in Africa.
We are all deeply saddened by the loss of life of innocent civilians and our condolences go out to the people of Uganda and the families that have lost their loved ones.