Is Kenya steadily playing catch up to Al Shabaab?
It’s been “a minute” since the West Gate siege and silly me; I thought that as a government, citizenry and republic at some point in between the “heavy gun fire exchange” with “a lot” of terrorist at the then prestigious and soon again about to be…West Gate mall, some of us if not all…whipped out our notebooks and pens, wrote on our palms, unleashed our array of gadgets and took notes. Well, we did not. Rather, we contributed money…wept and shoved the entire disaster to the back and for a few days sustained the buzz on social media while waxing lyrical at TVs & radio interviews and church sessions and at our estate dingy & posh drinking dens and gossip hair-do palours re-told the entire siege blow by blow (notwithstanding the fact that we were not even in the vicinity of the upmarket Westlands area) swearing how others made mistakes and how we could do it better….if only.
First forward, as a citizen I lost young country men and women who were gearing up to do great and revolutionary stuff for & in Kenya, I can’t begin to pretend or remotely act like I understand what they were going through on that early Thursday morning or the human loss or the hallowing feeling and in some instances, the immense sense of despair by those whose sons and daughters were indiscriminately maimed albeit having been accorded an opportunity to set the record straight with the almighty before being summarily sent off on the road to Damascus from within an institution of higher learning up North. On the same breathe, neither should anyone - politicians included on this one specifically - feel inclined to act as if they do unless they were directly affected. As a young parent, I watched as one elder of mine in this trade of parenting narrated how life was with her daughter …. how it will be without her and what life dictates for her henceforth.
While we have in-depth and wide spread difference, as Kenyans we have this unifying factor that brings us together at the snap of a finger to help out when one or some of us are in danger. I would not want to be in a different country solely because of this attribute…the rest is up for debate and on instances, discussion. I remember slightly after the Westgate siege officials from Safaricom announcing that they had raised millions from Kenyans who contributed from across the country and going into detail to indicate that people were even sending cash denominations as low as K.Shs 10. Amazing, just amazing.
Now, in a country of over 40 Million people and counting, we can in form of a mass driven by a single agenda work together but we still are the same people of the same Kenya where one can sleep in one room comfortably, while another does not have food to eat. At that point, this or that individual is not someone who works hard but in a different circumstance, you…you…yes you…you reading this would have sent out to him or her, half your monthly house rent without batting an eyelid. This is indifference that Al Shabaab sees in us and exploits the living daylights out of it by turning your neighbor into a radicle. Whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt...he had a favorite formula for doing it. What was that; He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together something happens in Pharaohs court and he can not hold the slaves in slavery, when the slaves get together, that's the begining of getting out of slavery.
While am not pro-feed the idle and poor with all your resources all the time, I encourage us – you, me, him and her - to put ourselves in the place of the directly and indirectly affected. Case in point; the tragedy in Garrisa took place during the Easter period. While Kenyans wept with the dead and condemned the attack (this is a favorite with politicians)…Nairobians and other Kenyans drowned themselves into the festive season. We lost lives. Let me break this down; this means that, someone who was 20 or so years on Thursday will NOT live to see 21….his parents and siblings will need to tattoo his/her past in their brains and hearts just to “see” and “feel” them. But then again, we take it as lightly…remember; am not pro-feed the idle and poor with all your resources, I encourage us to put ourselves in the place of the affected. We’ve been surrounded with death so much so that it’s becoming a norm. I don’t know if nights are normal for the mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters of the Garrisa University murders and Westgate killings or if days are brighter. This is food for thought, you do the dishes.
I was once told that for God, a day is like a Century for a mere mortal man and so, understanding God should not be our immediate concern as it’s a code we will never crack even in the longer term despite the numerous burials that terrorists have decided to send us to albeit increasingly often. In effect, I thank our porous borders, wish-washy class mates whose demeanor no one notices is off, neighbors who mind their own business because “Ubuntu” will forever remain a phenomenon in Kenya, government officials whose ideals and those of the offices they hold can and will never gel. Exist Al Shabaab, West Gate and Garrisa University attack and come in The Government of Kenya. The President’s stance on matters security in Kenya just hours before day break in Garrisa University became judgment day way too soon. It would be greatly unfair to point fingers at the President entirely but it would be unrealistic to imagine that some moves on hearing of the attack would have been handled a notch better and tat-bit subtler.
The terrorists have shown that they are relentless and we as a country have “condemned” their actions with the sternest of voice – my fellow citizen, do you think it’s kind of working – the condemnation? I have a feeling that there is a terrorists’ code of ethics that they (globally) are competing to out-do each other on. I look forward to a day when an attack in Garrisa means that a fisherman in Kisumu will be just as concern not because his first born is studying in Garrisa, but because of three things; Garrisa and Kisumu both make up Kenya, there is a citizenry concern deeper than tribe, culture or political affiliation and that this will cease to be a pipe dream.
To my fellow young people…desperate, with lost ideals of Life and feeling like the society lied and short changed, God has also placed me and other young male and female Kenyans and beside you, the middle and old aged in a similar situation of desperation, steadily eroding ideologies and poverty as well but it does not mean that I have to become a renegade or a radicle to maim those who are suffering just like me or even more than me in the pretense of religion, culture or creed.
To the National Security Intelligence, I hope this entity will seek intelligence and establish where else would be a target before it’s too late and we have to make contributions - money we could use to develop rather than prep for burials, or invite panelists to TV and Radio stations to explain to us something that happened when some of them were still in dream land. This is because am tempted to think that in the event that the government will beef up security up North, the rest of the country will be left bare.
Mr. President, Like anybody I would like to live a long life - longevity has its place - being in Nairobi does not make me any safer than my country mate up North. As a matter of fact, it’s a matter of possibilities everywhere. I have places to be, things to do and be, people to see. I really do and I need to be alive to do all these and my family needs to be alive as well to tell me they told me so.
Dedicated to Garrisa University Terror Attack Victims