Stranded children back from Nairobi
Thursday, 6th September, 2007
Excited relatives receive the children at the Lugogo National Council of Sports office By Swalley Kenyi
A TOTAL of 120 children who were stranded for five days in the Kenyan capital Nairobi returned yesterday.
The children had gone for a week-long Ligi International Football Cup.
Accompanied by the National Council of Sports officials, the exhausted children arrived amid ululation from parents and relatives who had gathered at Lugogo since 11:00am.
One hundred and four children arrived at 3:15pm aboard a 59-seater bus belonging to a Kenyan company, Busscar. They were accompanied by the sports council secretary, Nicholas Muramagi, who had earlier received them from the Ugandan side of Busia border.
Kampala Junior Team director Mansoor Kabugo and head of delegation William Mwanja were immediately whisked off to Jinja Road Police station for interrogation.
Most of the children looked frail. “I haven’t eaten since last night. I feel thirsty and hungry but I can’t see my mother around here,” five- year-old Akram Kafero, one of the three youngest boys on the squad, said in a shaky voice.
His father Abdallatif Ssali and mother Salmat Nabukenya were not among the jubilating parents.
The sports council served each of the children a bottle of soda as the general secretary, Jasper Aligawesa, cautioned the parents against negligence when handling their children.
The physical appearance of 11-year-old Isaac Kasirye worried his guardians Sam Opeto and Betty Mukula.
“You can tell something is not right by looking at the boy. He does not look as happy as usual. But we are happy he is back,” Opeto said.
The 14-year-old Nelson Serunyange of Budo SS said they spent the last three nights in the Uganda High Commission office rooms and not on verandas as reported in the press. But he also complained of enduring hunger during the ordeal.
An official list showed that 54 children and 10 officials from Kampala Junior Team were cleared for the trip but KJT officials said more children joined the first group after their parents sponsored them individually.
Kibuli Zebra soccer academy director Robert Mulema said he had nine players and opted to travel under the Kampala Junior Team after paying Kabugo sh0.45m for the children.
The National Council of Sports technical chairman, Julius Zziwa, advised the parents to “go back home and ask your children if anything unusual happened to them. Don’t hesitate to get back to us in case of any information.”
Meanwhile, Edgars Programme, which also participated at the football competitions, clarified that all their 66 children returned safely on Tuesday as scheduled.