Madness, bloodshed, and Africa’s hope.

Madness is upon us and Somali militants have claimed responsibility. The BBC reports; The Somali Islamist group al-Shabab has said it was behind twin blasts which hit the Ugandan capital Kampala on Sunday, killing 74 people. In a statement in Mogadishu, spokesman for the group Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage threatened more attacks. A Ugandan official said a Somali’s head was found at the scene of one blast, and he may have been a suicide bomber. Ugandan peacekeepers are in Somalia, and al-Shabab has previously threatened Kampala.

“Al-Shabab was behind the two bomb blasts in Uganda,” Ali Mohamud Rage said.

“We thank the mujahideen that carried out the attack. We are sending a message to Uganda and Burundi, if they do not take out their Amisom [African Union Mission in Somalia] troops from Somalia, blasts will continue and it will happen in Bujumbura [the Burundi capital] too.” to read the rest

In earlier news, an al-Shabab commander in Mogadishu said he was happy with the attacks in Uganda, and Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa told AP news agency: “Uganda is one of our enemies. Whatever makes them cry, makes us happy. May Allah’s anger be upon those who are against us.” Chilling message.

This is the same group that a few months ago warned Somali’s not to watch soccer or listen to music other than the muezzin’s call. It is said in the Africa Review, “Most radio stations in southern and central Somalia have bowed to a ban on music, which militants say violates Islamic law. The insurgent group, Hizbul Islam, issued an order on April 3 telling all FM stations in the area to cease music broadcasts. They had 10 days to comply or would be silenced. (The ban includes commercial jingles). Even in schools, some have gone ahead to stop the ringing of bells.

For the radio stations that complied, they received the following message. “We salute your compliance with the pleasant undertaking to remove musical and melodic cassettes from your systems effective April 13,” said Sheikh Moalim Hashi. “Discarding devilish deeds like music is a religious principle and you managed to embrace Allah’s blessing.” The sheikh restated that the order was from Allah through the Koran, the holy book of all Muslims. He added that his movement, Hizbul Islam, was only “reminding” the broadcasters to comply with the order promulgated 14 centuries ago with the advent of Islam. However, he pointed a finger at stations still playing some tunes in their advertisement clips. “You must remove anything that bears music, even if it is minute.” Some stations now open their programs with the sounds of birds or cars, horses or chickens since even jingles are considered dangerous.

These extreme Islamists have also banned bras, beards, beauty salons, soccer, and movies. It’s tough for folks in Somali, and it’s tougher if you’re a woman. Amazing how we do not learn fro history. The same nonsense and extremism happened in Iran and Afghanistan. It didn’t do any good, yet these Somalis are ready and eager to repeat it. History is often twisted and made by fools, but nowadays, history is being shaped by violent fundamentalists it makes fools look innocent. Watching the reign of terror spreading makes peace and sanity priceless.

When the World Cup started, “hundreds of football fans in Mogadishu had to move from a section of Mogadishu controlled by Al-Shabaab and Hizbu Islam, two radical Islamist groups, to catch the games.” Way into the game, two Somali soccer fans were killed and 30 more arrested.

Back to the bombings in Uganda, it is clear it is all part of senseless killings and war tactics, something I will never appreciate because I was raised and taught to settle scores with the very folks I happen to fall out of line with, because it is manly, womanly, instead of attacking their children, wives, brothers, sisters, friends and so on. War tactics say you have an issue to settle with Ugandan soldiers, attack the civilians, and cause as much pain to the innocent folks. It explains why in any war situation, women, specifically, suffer the most when they are raped or captured in order to hurt the men who are fighting. I’m yet to see a group that will pick up arms and fight like the brave, soldier to soldier, and leave the civilians out of it. But you realize the bombers are warmongers that torment and kill their own. In no way are they going to spare anyone.

As Uganda prepares to host the Assembly of the African heads of state come July 25th, high on the agenda should be the issue of citizen’s safety and protection. Easier said than done, but there has to be a beginning. Families are grieving. Most of us are still uncertain which folks are dead and which ones are still missing for other reasons. We don’t need speeches on political whatever. We are scared and we need hope, comfort, and someone who empathizes with our pain.

On the good side, I’m proud of the Eastern Africa region pulling off a new law and launching the Common Market that exempts citizens of East Africa from paying all forms of entry fees to a neighboring country. Kenya has taken the initiative and it must be hailed. Immigration minister, Otieno Kajwang, invoked Section 4(3)(h) that gives him power to exempt non-Kenyan citizens from obtaining and paying for a valid entry permit. “I want to inform you that the government has decided that from the date of the gazette notice, all citizens of the United Republic of Tanzania, the Republic of Burundi, the Republic of Rwanda and the Republic of Uganda seeking to reside, engage in any employment, occupation, trade, business or profession in Kenya, will be able to do so without the requirement of a work permit,” the minister said Friday at his Nyayo House office, Nairobi. And the President added, “I am directing the minister responsible for Immigration to waive fees on work permits for all East African citizens.”

Previously, obtaining a Kenyan work permit for an East African citizen cost around $2,500 while an investment permit cost $5,000. This is what Kenya will forfeit in the name of the EAC Common Market. Real kudos here, and I must add that many will be the advantages for all of us.  Rwanda, like Kenya has abolished work permits but Uganda is adamant and insists on preserving that terrible exclusion practice. Hopefully for Kenya and Rwanda–the enlightened in this issue–with free movement of goods, services, folks, capital and labor, they’ll endeavor to do their best with integrity when crossing borders to pursue work and dreams. Who knows, in a few more years, the regional treaties will be strong enough to gather together and treat all Africans with deserved respect. We will be strong once again and no terrorist attacks will stand in our way. For now we waver, but it won’t always be so. God bless Africa, and shine the glory all over the continent.



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