I had hardly stopped fist pumping in the air over Spain's victory in the World Cup when I heard the news about the simultaneous bombings in Kampala, Uganda. What caught my eye immediately, besides the death toll in the senseless attacks, was that one of the locations of carnage was the Ethiopian Village restaurant in Kabalagala. When we were in Uganda in June, we stayed on the hill right above this district and would walk down to Kabalagala to eat and use the internet. The Ethiopian Village had an enormous TV in the main room and people would crowd in to watch the World Cup. We were in Uganda when African teams were still in the hunt so people would spill onto the street. You would often see enthusiastic fans packed 100 deep on the street looking into some bar with a tiny TV just to get a glimpse of the action.
When I heard about the bombings, I immediately worried about my friend, Matt Anderson. He's a student from the University of Colorado, on his first trip to Africa, who is helping BeadforLife with its inventory this summer. He was staying in the same guest house where we were and it would have been completely logical for him to have walked down the street to the Ethiopian Village for a Nile Special and the finals between Spain and the Netherlands. Ethiopian Village has great food and my colleague, Paul, and I took Matt there one night after we all were done surfing the net across the street at The Lion's Den. My instincts were right. Matt was in the bombing. I received an email shortly after the attack from Devin Hibbard, our host and one of the founders of BeadforLife, that yes, Matt had been there but he was alright. Thank God. This morning I received this email:
I'm OK. I was at the Ethiopian Village when the bomb went off. Thankfully, I was in a side room watching a smaller TV, not the large projector screen, so there was a wall between me and the blast. I wasn't hurt at all by the blast but helped some Americans who got shrapnel in their legs - everyone's instinct was to rush out as fast as possible but these people were on the ground and couldn't move, I had to do something. Eventually, people kicked me out saying it wasn't safe even though these Americans were still inside and injured. I didn't know what to do until someone yelled at me to call my embassy. Thankfully I had the number in the Uganda phone Devin gave me. I called the embassy and shortly afterward greeted an agent who arrived on the scene. This is all very scary and unfortunately put a damper on the whole trip. I don't know how much longer I will be staying but friends at BeadforLife say that there will be political unrest for a while... we'll see. Thanks for the email. I'll keep you posted. Matt
A Somali group called Al-Shabab, which has ties to Al-Qaeda, is taking credit for this massacre. A leader for the militants said "Whatever makes Uganda cry, makes us happy." The group has a beef with Uganda because they have peacekeepers in Somalia and have ties to Ethiopia. There are worries that there will continue to be instability leading up to next year's Presidential election. According to news accounts, the bombings at the Ethiopian Village and at the Rugby Club killed at least 64 people. This is unthinkable. This is so senseless. During my visits there I have always been amazed by how safe I feel in Kampala. It is such a shame that radicals would disrupt and disorganize the place like this. And it is such a shame that my friend Matt, who was so overjoyed by the opportunity to do good in Uganda, had to witness such evil. I hope he doesn't lose heart. Please pray for the people of Uganda and most of all please pray for peace.
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