Rumors and Xenophobia

The past several days there have been countless rumors of bomb attacks, failed attacks and discoveries of unexploded suicide vests and the like. Security is very high in most upscale locations such as the Serena, Lugogo shopping center, and Garden City. It takes quite a while to get into some of these places as each car and bag is thoroughly searched (as least as of this afternoon). I don’t know how many additional people have been called on duty, but security companies must be enjoying the increased usage of their already prolific services around town. This amongst much outcry for the resignation of Uganda’s minister for security, Amama Mbabazi.

Apart from the fear of imminent explosions, my biggest concern now is the treatment of the Somali, Ethiopian and Eritrean communities in Kampala, and Uganda more generally. At least one Eritrean man was apparently badly beaten by a mob on Tuesday evening who thought he was a Somali, and the BBC’s Joshua Mmali interviewed a man on radio this morning who said he had trouble even finding bodas (motorcycle taxis, a common form of public transport) because people mistook him for a Somali. Mob justice still reigns in much of the city, and I fear for those innocent people who find themselves at the mercy of fear, anger and misinformation. Even as Ugandan authorities hunt for those responsible for Sunday’s attacks, they should also be aware of the danger in which many refugees, foreign nationals and Ugandan citizens alike now find themselves.

Meanwhile, a Rwandan opposition politician has been found dead in Rwanda.

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