Last night, during the World Cup finale, an unknown person or persons set off bombs in Kampala at a popular Ethiopian restaurant. Rumor has it that it may have been a Somali insurgency group, but reports haven’t been confirmed.
Watching the footage of the aftermath of the explosion on the news this morning, I felt a mixture of horror, anger, and anxiety. I felt frightened because we had only just left the city mere hours before the blast. I was horrified that those people were just sitting down to eat and have a few beers while cheering for their team of choice, when their life changed (or ended). I was angry that someone would do something that seemed so senseless.
It was different than my usual reaction to such an event. I’m ashamed to admit that usually I hear about an awful event in the world and think “oh well, that’s unfortunate” and life goes on without a second thought. This time, I felt personally affronted – how dare someone attack this lovely place and these friendly people? I felt as if my own home’s dignity had been compromised.
The seminar started this morning with a group of about 20 Ugandan radio journalists. During discussion about the event, they were very calm. Of course, they have just come out of a civil war – an act of violence in their country isn’t as out of the ordinary as it would be in the States.
It’s very sobering. It’s odd to be here on a peace mission and before our very first seminar have such violence committed. I feel both discouraged and determined. It’s discouraging that even if these seminars are a wild success, they can’t stop such random acts from occurring. However, I feel heartened that the education these journalists are receiving might prevent other senseless violence. Perhaps the attackers were fueled by passion borrowed from news reports. Maybe this can be traced back to something we can affect, after all.
I feel sometimes as if we’re working against human nature, to advocate for peace. After all, even cavemen fought! It’s not like war and conflict are new inventions. At our core, are we really just wild animals? Or can we evolve, as a global society, into a community that can live and let live? This event has brought up a lot of questions for me that aren’t easily or scientifically answered. All I know is that it will take a while for me to simply digest the questions, and perhaps the answers will come in time.