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A survivors tale

The Independent Team

At 11 pm on July 11 a crowd of 700 is gathered at Kyadondo Rugby Club, located 3 km east of central Kampala, to watch the World Cup final. The cumulative excitement and anxiety is unimaginable.

As the announcer says, ‘Three minutes left to the first 90 minutes of this match and nobody is sure who will take this World Cup,’ Isaac Kuddzu, who is watching the match, receives a telephone call. He dashes a few meters away to answer it. It’s this call that snatches him from the terrorist’s hand of death.

As Kuddzu answers the phone a loud explosion rips through the air, shuttering everything on site. He falls down. He starts hallucinating. What has happened? Has he has been shot? Kuddzu looks around for the assailant but all he can see are several lifeless bodies on the ground. ‘Masanyalazze (it’s an electric explosion)!’ someone screams. Rather than flee the scene, the unsuspecting crowd curiously gathers around. Then another bomb goes off that is even more devastating than the first.

‘I saw things falling apart. I went to hide behind a huge balloon but it also collapsed. It had been ripped by the fragments. I got confused,’ Kuddzu recounts. When he returns to his seat, his bag is in pieces and all the people who had been seated near him are dead.

Dozens of bodies of both local and foreign nationals lie on the ground and the injured are groaning in pain. A young woman lies in a pool of blood’her leg shuttered by the terrorist’s bomb. Kuddzu pulls her aside to safety. Another body, a few metres away, has a nail stuck in its forehead. Moments later the police and Red Cross are pacing up and down, ferrying the dead and the injured to hospital.

The night is unbearably painful. Some families have lost more than one member. A man lost a wife, two children and his maid. Another family lost two children who had just finished university and were awaiting graduation this year.

‘Sometimes I don’t understand the difference between dying and surviving,’ asks Kuddzu. ‘What had Brenda and her brother Brian done to deserve death?’ The two had sat near him before he dashed to answer his call moments earlier.

The two explosions that went off at Kyaddondo in quick succession were linked to a similar blast at an Ethiopian restaurant in Kabalagala, east of the capital Kampala, which also killed dozens of people around the same time.

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