Make a kebaab of Al-Shabaab

2010-07-17 12:27

To drive through Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, is

to experience a society in which different religions co-exist peaceably. The

hilly city is dotted with mosques and churches. While the country is

overwhelmingly Christian with a 13% Muslim population, the two dominant

religions have lived side by side.

That is until last Sunday when

cowardly ­suicide bombers preyed on those gathered to watch the World Cup soccer

final at two ­venues: the Ethiopian Village and the local rugby grounds. They

set off their bombs and 76 people were killed, scores more were ­injured to put

a damper on a Cup that had helped to ­recast the image not only of South Africa

but Africa as a whole.

Leaders across the region should

have been on high alert for a possible attack from Al-Shabaab, which claimed

responsibility, when the radical militia began beating up Somalians who tried to

watch the soccer. But that news came and went too quickly of yet another

abrogation of rights in the Horn of ­Africa. Somalians live under a Taliban-like

­regime across large swathes of the country that is in the grip of the maniacal

youth called Al-Shabaab.

They practise an outdated and

conservative Islam backed by arms, both small and large, which make theirs a reign of terror. Until now they have not

exported their policies except for skirmishes with Ethiopia which provides most

of the force trying to hold up a transitional government and to return the

country to a semblance of structure and peace. Uganda came within the target

lines of Al-Shabaab

because it has also sent peace-keepers aligned to the African Union to Somalia.

Now Uganda’s President Yoweri

Museveni has vowed to pursue Al-Shabaab and to hunt down the cowards who killed so many

at the weekend. He must be supported in this endeavour for a resurgent Africa

cannot now be blighted as a continent where terrorists roam free. As we try to

pry loose old borders to encourage greater trade flows to grow economic blocs,

these must not become so porous that those who seek to sow terror and

instability move across them with ease.

We use the term “terrorist” with

due caution given how it was misused in South Africa’s past to describe people

most of us called freedom fighters.

But suicide bombers and people who

believe women and those of other faiths are lesser beings are hardly


Old-style quiet diplomacy in Africa

must give way to loud cries of opprobrium against what is happening in Somalia

and what could be exported to the region.

It is time to skewer Al-Shabaab. Make a ­kebaab of Al-Shabaab.

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