By Kalungi Kabuye
Ugandans reacted in varying ways when the news of the terrorist attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi got out. The greatest number of them sympathised with the Kenyans, many changed their facebook profile pictures to Kenyan flags, and wished them speedy resolution of the crisis.
There were a few oddballs, though, always are. One of them posted how she lost trust in East African governments to keep their people safe and tried to make a joke of it by saying she has been watching too much TV.
Her friends (the real ones not just facebook friends) were not buying it, and told her off for her insensitivity. There were so many of them that in the end she just shut up, hopefully she learnt a lesson, some things are really off-limits to partisan politics.
Partisan politics is the most common way many Ugandans react to things these days, and I was waiting for some silly politician to stand up and say what was happening in Kenya was all the fault of the Ugandan government, and demand evidence to prove it.
Even the senior ‘walk-to-work’ guru kept silent this time, his demand that Uganda withdraw from Somalia after the Kyadondo attack in July 2010 did not win him many admirers, and probably cost him a lot of goodwill, too.
And that barefoot legislator from Mukono did not say a word, thank God.
Many Ugandans also admired the way opposition leader Raila Odinga stood with President Uhuru Kenyatta, and wondered if political leaders in Uganda would do the same.
It did not happen in 2010, of course, and doubt if it would happen now. But yes, hopefully a few lessons have been learnt by our politicians, that times of tragedy are not times to go partisan.
Of course, there are conspiracy theories making the rounds in bufunda that Uhuru was helped by Museveni to stage the attack so he could get sympathy during the ICC trials.
Those kind of people have probably been watching too many Nigerian movies and believe in ghosts that look twice before crossing roads.
The funny thing is that many Kenyans believe that if that attack had happened in Uganda our security forces would have dealt with the terrorists in short thrift.
Many Ugandans also watched Citizen TV for the first time, as almost every pub you went to had it giving updates. We learnt that Kenyan TV presenters also had problems with English, and that their women looked different from ours, especially when they turned around.
But there are many lessons we have not learned, like the woman at the Lugogo Mall, who did not want to be searched, because she was in a ‘hurry’. And all those drivers complaining about ‘traffic jams’ as the guards give cars a thorough check.
But what fascination do Uganda security guards have with a car glove box? You may have a bag that could carry dozens of kilos of explosive, but the guards will ignore it and check the glove box, and wave you off after that.
They also clearly have lessons to learn.