Pub fans must be vigilant
Posted Saturday, September 28 2013 at 01:00
The Nairobi Westgate mall terror attack of last week was a stark reminder that the threat of terrorism in this region is never far away. It is indeed a present danger especially if you consider that those claiming responsibility for the mayhem also have Uganda in their cross-hairs.
And it is not like we needed the reminder either. The scars of July 11 2010 Kyandondo Rugby grounds are still fresh as are the images of young football fans, some still holding hands frozen in their seats by the violent suddenness of their deaths.
Further back another bomb did go off in a public viewing area. Few remember this but for me it is personal because I was playing pool less than 10 meters away from the explosion!
Had it been any more sophisticated than just a crude bundle of nails and sulphur, not even the pool table would have saved me. The place was The Slow Boat pub and the occasion yet another public viewing football event - the 1998 Football World Cup final.
A clear pattern starts to form here but for me it is not as much as ‘terrorists’ having an inbred dislike for football fans; it is just that in this happy city of ours the major reason men and women go out is not to eat or have a coffee (we don’t have an eating out culture) but to watch a televised football game and have a beer(s) while they are at it.
So logically anyone aiming to take out a huge public crowd in Kampala is highly likely hit a TV football crowd. And sports pubs and ‘bibaanda’ are much easiest targets than say music concerts as those tend to deploy heavy security anyway!
I guess what I am trying to say is that the security in all those pubs we frequent cannot be taken for granted anymore. Yes many of our pubs are small and might not attract the attention of a volume- obsessed terrorist.
But if the Westgate attack shows anything it’s that the modern terrorist doesn’t have to come packaged in an explosive vest anymore and that he will adapt and change.
That change could mean an attack on ‘bufundas’ in Kampala as opposed to a swanky mall because they are our hangouts, the social nets that catches our fall after we are pushed by the insanity of modern living.
They embody our happy spirit, and to an urban terrorist represent the smirk he would like to wipe off our faces.
So that ‘ka-place’ of yours that is no larger than two benches and an improvised counter may not be as safe as you think, especially if the TV hanging on its far wall is showing football.
The unnaturally light skinned waitress-cum-proprietor may know your favourite beverage, temperature preferences, and a couple of your nocturnal secrets, but all the familiarity and comforts can literally go up in smoke at anytime.
So this is an appeal to all of us pub-goers. After we are done passing judgment on those whose mangled religious ideas have turned them into cowardly murderers let us change.
Let us be more vigilant on security matters.
We owe that to all those who paid the ultimate price.