Compiled By Markson Omagor
On Saturday, 11th July Uganda marked the 10th anniversary of the twin bombings at Kyadondo Rugby Ground and the Ethiopian Village Restaurant, during the screening of the 2010 football World Cup final held in South Africa.
The Somali militant group, al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the twin attacks in revenge for Uganda’s deployment of peacekeeping troops in Somalia. Uganda provides the bulk of the African Union peacekeeping troops in Somalia, with over 6,000 troops deployed in the country.
The attacks left 74 dead and 85 injured.
The Kyandodo Rugby Club attack consisted of two explosions in quick succession, occurring at 11:18 pm.
According to eyewitnesses, there was an explosion near the 90th minute of the match, followed seconds later by a second explosion that knocked out the lights at the field.
A SURVIVOR’S NARRATIVE
Gabriel Odatin is an Electrical Engineer, consultant and contractor with Umeme, a main power distribution company in Uganda.
The World Cup final of 2010 got him and many of his friends in the Capital, Kampala.
To warm up for the D-day, Gabriel went to Seeta, a Kampala suburb and joined a group of old ten hardcore football fans at Nantabulirwa Gardens. Here the group drank cratefuls of beer in a jovial atmosphere summing it up with the tasty molokony bites.
As the evening approached, the group decided it was time to hit the Kyandondo Rugby Club for the highly advertised live screening of the Cup final.
At about 7:30pm the group left in two vehicles. The first group consisting of 6 set off in one car. However, this group got stranded at Bweyogerere when their car got a flat tyre.
Meanwhile, Gabriel who left later drove towards Kyandondo knowing that his friends had already reached. On reaching Spear Road traffic lights, an obstinate traffic police officer ordered him to drive towards Ntinda instead.
The officer was pissed because he was attempting to overtake at the traffic lights’ junction as though he actually intended to branch off to the right, towards Ntinda.
“I tried to argue with the officer that I was actually headed to Kyandondo and not Ntinda but he could have none of it. At one point, he even threatened to arrest me if I insisted,” Gabriel narrated.
Frustrated and angry, Gabriel drove as instructed towards Ntinda with some hope that he could maneuver his way to Kyandondo from that end.
The situation was however worsened by heavy traffic jams as everybody seemed to be rushing to some public place or other to watch the final. When he reached Ntinda, the temptation to drive straight home overpowered the World Cup final fever. This was influenced by the fact that he rented at Kisasi at the time. His 6 friends were also sweating to find a tyre at Bweyogere that they did not bother calling him.
That night, Gabriel went straight to bed and with that evening’s annoyance, put his phone on silent mode.
He slept well and was not aware of what had happened at the place he should have been with his 9 other friends.
In the morning, he was surprised to see very many missed calls.
“I started wondering why all those people chose to call me past midnight. That is why I decided to call back,” I was shocked by what I heard.
“Everyone I called back said they thought I had died, because they knew I was headed to Kyandondo and two, my phone was ringing yet I was not picking,” Gabriel who till now thanks God for sending the traffic police officer as an Angel to save him reminisces.
To confirm the news, a distressed Gabriel drove to Palm Gardens in Kisaasi where he got the news on Television. He could not believe the scaring images he saw, lifeless bodies on chairs, scattered limbs, and splashed blood.
“I shivered with the knowledge that without the obstinacy of the police officer, I could be part of those images,” Gabriel said before adding that;
“I wish I had read the name of that Officer, I would have gone back to look for and thank him handsomely. He saved my life.” Gabriel Odatin concludes.