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R.I.P. Nate “Oteka” Henn

July 12, 2010 - 4:54 pm

Nate “Oteka” Henn, a San Diego resident and volunteer for the local aid group Invisible Children, was killed in a terrorist bombing during the World Cup final in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, yesterday.

“Nate was an amazing individual,” Jason Russell, one of Invisible Children’s founders, just told me over the phone. “He lived full-time as a volunteer at Invisible Children for a year and a half. His whole world was fighting injustice.”

Adding to the heartbreak, Russell told me that Henn’s brother just survived a plane crash in which the pilot died and the co-pilot lost his legs.

The tragedy hits close to home for me. Two years ago, I traveled around Uganda with a colleague; we spent much of our time in the northern region, where a war with a rebel group called the Lord’s Resistance Army had raged for over twenty years up until peace talks began in 2006. (We wrote a feature about the war for CityBeat.) The Ugandans we spent time with were some of the nicest, most welcoming people I’ve ever met. In Gulu, the provincial capital, we met dozens of passionate volunteers like Henn, who were helping rebuild a broken society. It’s horrifying that such loving people would be killed for no reason other than that they were enjoying a sport that’s beloved to people across the world.

My heart goes out to the Henn family and for the Ugandans who’ve lost friends and family.

Invisible Children is planning a memorial service for this week, Russell said. The details aren’t hammered down yet, so check their website for updates.

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