The mob let loose last week by Buganda Kingdom hardliners on the general public also caused yet more damage to Uganda’s reputation when sections of them shouted abuse at visitors coming from the international airport as their transfer vehicles had to enter the city center to reach their hotels. In the process, looting some baggage also took place.
It was also reported that Asian Ugandans were subjected to unwarranted racist remarks, as were several muzungus or white people living in Kampala. In fact, one Asian-owned supermarket was burned to the ground in the Bwaise suburb of the city. It is thought that the cause may have been an act of revenge on this particular Ugandan community for generally being loyal and supportive to the government. The responsibility for these, and related developments, have been laid squarely at the doorstep of those irresponsible hotheads who initially incited the rioters, hooligans, and looters to go on a rampage, and the local media left no doubt about the short-, medium-, and long-term implications of last week’s events.
In regard of tourism, said one of the leading tour and safari operators: “This is the last thing we needed. Our sector is just coming out of the hole the world economic situation has put us last year. We are preparing a big campaign with Uganda Wildlife [Authority] to promote our primates. Sending gangs on the streets to cause chaos over small issues has done tourism a lot of harm. Making tourists from the airport leave their cars and walk through angry crowds and loot some of their bags is almost like committing treason against tourism. I beg government to help us now with more funding for promotions and keep our streets safe.”
Meanwhile, some radio stations were taken off the air for continued sectarian incitement, which one source close to this column claimed to have shown similarities to the pre-genocide broadcasts in Rwanda in 1994, which led to large sections of its population then taking up crude arms before going on a killing spree. Visit www.newvision.co.ug for up-to-date information about Uganda.