ON July 11, 2010, al-Shaabab, a terrorist group based in Somalia, launched two heinous bomb attacks on Ugandans at Kyadondo Rugby Club and the Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kabalagala, that left 79 people dead and several injured. New Vision is remembering the Ugandans who perished in the tragedy.
When Bomb blasts hit Kyadondo Rugby Club that Sunday night, July 11 2010, Patrick Isoke did not expect his younger brother, George Ssanga, to be among the people who had gone there to enjoy the World Cup final.
Isoke says his brother Ssanga was a football fan, but he rarely went out to watch the games, especially in public places.
â€œProbably because the final kick fever is always high among young people, Ssanga wanted to enjoy the match with his friends? May be that is why he went to Kyadondo,â€ wonders Isoke, a records officer at the Internal Affairs ministry.
It was at 6:00pm on a Monday when Isoke got a call about his brotherâ€™s fate.
â€œThe call was from Ssangaâ€™s friend who had seen him at the venue. He was informing me that Ssanga could have died in the Kyadondo bomb blasts,â€ Isoke recounts.
Ssanga, a 29-years-old, was a graduate of Bachelor of Procurement and Logistics Management from Kyambogo University. He had started working at Uganda Telecoms Ltd at the time of his death.
â€œI didnâ€™t know whether my brother had gone to Kyadondo or not. And when one of his friends asked me whether my brother was safe, I did not understand what he meant. It was not until he clarified that Ssanga might be in danger, or dead following the Kyadondo World Cup final tragedy,â€ Isoke recalls.
On that fateful day, Ssanga is said to have left work with three of his friends to go and watch football.
Fortunately, his friends were not affected. But they suspected Ssanga was dead because before the blasts, they opted to go for fresh air at the back because the place was packed with football revellers. Shortly after, a bomb went off in the direction where Ssanga was seated.
â€œHis friends vividly remember that after the first blast, Ssanga fell off his chair and took cover on the ground. But it was the second blast that took his life,â€ narrates Isoke.
According to Isoke, before his brother lost consciousness, he picked his phone and called a friend asking him to go and rescue him.
Unfortunately, he did not complete the call. And this did not help matters. He was not rescued either because everyone was running for their life.
To verify whether his brother had died or not, Isoke said he had, either to read the newspapers or go to the city mortuary to check for his name among the victims of the blasts.
â€œThat day, I bought almost all newspapers in a bid to find his name. I did not find his name on the list. I was somewhat relieved that my brother could be alive, but somewhere,â€ recalls Isoke.
The relief was, however, shortlived. Isoke said he decided to go and check among the dead at the city mortuary.
â€œI took heart and entered the mortuary. I checked carefully, examining all the features of the dead. I was disturbed when I saw my brotherâ€™s body under a pile of other bodies. I identified him by his toes,â€ recounts Isoke.
According to Isoke, when he looked at his brotherâ€™s body, it was not significantly wounded like others. He says his brother only had two bomb fragment rings on his forehead.
â€œI suspect that my brother was hit by the second blast. I also assume that my brother was injured, but didnâ€™t die until he was thrown in the ambulance. May be he died under the weight of other dead bodies or ailing victims,â€ he further says.
Although he admits being traumatised for some time after the incident, Isoke says he was thankful to God for Ssangaâ€™s body because some people did not get the opportunity to recover their relativesâ€™ bodies.
Isoke says they lost their parents long ago, but he and the rest of the siblings managed to give their brother a decent burial. He says Ssanga left a big gap that will take time for their family to fill.
â€œSsanga was like my son. I took care of his school requirements and wellbeing as he grew up,â€ he says.
Isoke says he was so disturbed by his brotherâ€™s death to the extent that he had to seek professional counseling.
â€œI was so close to my brother and we even stayed together in the same house for a long time before he moved to his rented house after he got a job,â€says Isoke.
â€œI regretted his death more because he died at the time we were not seeing each other as often as we used to,â€ he adds.
Following his brotherâ€™s death, Isoke has decided to take life in a whole new dimension.
Isoke says he has learnt to appreciate life a bit more because his brotherâ€™s sudden death communicated something; he needed to take life more seriously. And this, he says, means being prepared because any time anything can happen.
Isoke says he and the rest of the family are trying to put the past behind them.
â€œSsanga did not leave a child behind. The family regrets the heartless act that took away the lives of young people at Kyadondo and Kabalagala,â€ Isoke says, adding that:
â€œWe can never forget Ssanga because of his humour and love. There is no pain I can ever compare to that day when I confirmed my brother was dead and the day we put him to rest.â€ Ssanga was burried at their ancestral home in Kyamara in Buliisa sub-county, Fort Portal district.
The weight of other bodies could have killed my brother