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{UAH} JULY 11th Kampala Bombing. Why really did we not have a memorial


Sunday July 11 2010 was an exciting day for JoshMali De Dos Países and myself.We had planned for this day very well. We were going to watch the World Cup finals between Spain and the Netherlands but we had not decided where we would watch it from. The Night before, we had been at an establishment called Iguana, then owned by a Dutch national. We both supported the Netherlands and the owner of the establishment had given us orange t-shirts with the flags of Spain and the Netherlands printed at the front.

Imagining that the city would be busy, Joshua, who at the time was Uganda's BBC correspondent, decided that it would be wise not to drive on that day. He came by my Kiwatule home at about midday to pick me. He was dressed in his Netherlands t-shirt, brown shorts and a pair of trainer shoes. I had wanted to dress up in jeans, but seeing his combination, i also combed my closet and emerged dressed in the same manner.

My wife and kids wished us a wonderful evening and we walked out like twins, excited over the evening ahead. We sat on the same Okada all the way to Kisementi, our first stop Iguana. But the place was full. It was so so jam packed. We couldnt get a place to sit, yet the finals were hours away. We opted to have one refreshment each and look for another establishment.

As we sipped on in a bit of relief, in walked in two fair ladies of British decent. They knew Joshua so we had one more round of drinks after which we began debating on the place to go. One of the ladies suggested the Kyadondo rugby grounds because it was open and lots of fresh air. I thought it would probably rain but we eventually decided to try it out.

We jumped on Okadas and off to Kyadondo. When we reached the gates, there was an entrance fee being charged. The people at the gate said we pay and get drinks at the counter with a coupon. Joshua was disgusted. He suggested Centenary Park. Back on Okadas we sped off to Centenary Park.

So here we were, two chaps in orange t-shirts and brown shots and two equally brown British females. We looked like we had "arrived" as we walked through the park looking for a place to settle.

We ended up at this establishment that suddenly its name has disappeared from my mind. But there was a Daily Monitor party at it. Suddenly, we were being served free drinks and chicken and beef and samosas. The music was loud and nice and we danced away with our company to the admiration of Monitor journalists. Little did i know that just the next month August 2010, i would join the same crew.

As the party and the football match went on, just at Half time, Joshua came to us and said there had been an explosion at the Ethiopian Village restaurant in Kabalagala. As soon as he said that, our female company crew said they were going home. They immediately put their drinks down and headed for the exit without saying bye. I was shocked then but today i realised how intelligent that was. They were not sure of their safety even at the venue we were at.

Joshua and i also left for the Ethiopian village to see for ourselves what had happened.

We got there before the police had cordoned of the scene. Blooded people with hanging limbs, screams from inside, We both feared to enter but just as we had arrived the police arrived to. The place was locked down. a police van went into the establishment and police officer later walked out, some crying.

Shawn Kimuli my former colleague while i worked at Kampala FM was at the scene too. Then, he was working for the newly established NBS Television. He came up to us looking total devastated and frustrated. His phone had gone low on battery yet he needed to make a call and make a social media post about the incident. Joshua was speaking on his phone to Bush House London so i passed my E61i that had been bought for me by my dear friend at the time Sudhir Ruperalia. It was a state of the art phone at the time, wide screen and all the audio and video apps then that were only available on PC.

Shawn made is post and just as he had finished, General Kale Kayihura arrived at the scene. By this time the rest of the press was with us. For some reason i had carried my audio recorder with me. To this day i have that audio interview with General kayihura. He was devastated. He was crying. He went into the restaurant and when he came out he was different. He sat down on the pavement and was crying. Joshua and i went up to him. I was allowed to pass because his security detail on that day was partly the Presidential Guard within which i have friends.

Joshua and i sat next to the IGP, the rest of the media blocked from him. Kayihura cried. He was in pain. We consoled him for a few minutes. He said to us, "Have i really failed to protect Ugandans like this? What will i do? How did this happen?"

His phone rang, he composed himself and picked the call. Seconds later he walked back to us and told me and Joshua "Kyadondo rugby club has also been hit in the same way."

Joshua and i looked at each other, remembering how we both almost went into that place. But wait, General Kayihura has his story too. That Sunday evening he had returned from upcountry. His eldest son had actually been at Kyadondo that very evening, waiting for his friends. Those friends had stood him up so he decided to go home where he found his father and they both sat in the living room to watch the World Cup finals. He too would have been a victim of Kyadondo.

Friends, it was a bad night. We went to Kyadondo and my friends in the police force who i will not mention, let us through into the grounds. It was terrible. Limbs, flesh, blood everywhere half people, people with broken limbs, people crying for help and these police officers struggling to remove remains and clear the area with their bare hands, carrying human flesh, intestines, legs, heads, arms.

Joshua had to get to the studio and do a live broadcast. So we parted ways. I was about to get an Okada when i met Howard Miller and Maya Kimberly Prabhu. They gave me a ride in their Pajero to Ntinda. It was chaos. The Military police had gone on the rampage, beating anybody they found on the streets,. Howard and Maya lived in Ntinda, but they risked to drive me all the way to Kiwatule. I thank God they went back and got home safe. i told my wife what had happened, she woke up and we switched on the Tele. We did not sleep.

Many died that day, Joshua, myself and Kayihura's son could have been part of that statistics.

It is sad that July 11th 2017 passed without any national recognition. It just tells you many things. Every July 11th, i thank my creator for Joshua Mmali who refused to pay entrance fees at the Kyadondo Rugby club grounds.

Good morning Uganda.

Allaah gives the best to those who leave the choice to Him."And if Allah touches you with harm, none can remove it but He, and if He touches you with good, then He is Able to do all things." (6:17)

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