3.45pm: December 11th, 2014
“We cannot fight terrorism and fight for liberty at the same time. The al-shabaab movement is not synonymous to the Muslim religion, it is an extremist Jihadist terrorist group, they killed two policewomen today, our sheiks are no longer at ease in the mosques…we cannot fight the terrorists!” (I refuse to clap at this.)
Another: “We cannot throw the baby with the bathing basin, NO!!…”
I have just tuned in for a quick look at the latest news: National Assembly proceedings on the Security bill necessitated by the recent terror attacks in the country. Proposers say that the proposed law will help fix security. Part of it says that terrorists will be held separately and incommunicado, and further suggests setting up of a national counter- terrorism center. Deep down, I know for a fact that no law can fix such level of insecurity without individual commitment from each citizen; the problem is not the law but the enforcement of the law…
Do the members of the National Assembly really know the pain of sudden death, when in the morning all was okay, and in the night, all is gone? Jumping at every call constantly hoping to hear from them, teary eyes and careworn to keep your hope alive, praying every second and skipping meals with a painful lump of agony stuck on your throat, but finally getting a call from the mortuary. And suddenly, grabbing anything for support, a chair, a table, anything…whole body shaking in devastation, suppressing weeping at first – trying to wear a mask of confidence until all is right. Realizing that it is not going to be okay, there is no resurrection. Then, totally overcome by grief, breaking down hysterically with salty tears running to your mouth and wiping mucus with the back of your palm. Coupled with the pain of wishing you had a chance to say good bye… asking ‘why God’ and ‘why now’? Do they understand the added ache of funeral expenses and the transition tribulations? Wishing you learned how to cry in public, but ending up whimpering awfully without any rhythm, swollen red shot eyes, unkempt hair and with no care of your appearance? …. I only hope that the families affected are not following this… Never have I seen such an emotive debate, each defending their stand with their heart and soul…
Terrorism did not start yesterday. Historically, Norfolk hotel was bombed in 1980, 20 killed, 80 injured. The US embassy bombed in 1998, 224 death counts, more than 4,000 non fatal injuries. 2011/2012, more than 17 attacks involving grenades and explosives, at least 48 dead, roughly 200 injured. Then the Westgate attack, death count: 62 civilians from different countries, 5 security officers, and ALLEGEDLY, the 4 terrorists. I watched it all with cut breath, sniveled with every gunshot and froze with all the images I saw, that was not Kenya! One year later, so many unanswered questions. No one held responsible, only blame game soaring like confetti from the NIS for failing to detect the attack, to the police for not reacting in time and the Kenyan military for mishandling the takeover.
This was followed by The Mpeketoni mass killings, arson, van hijacking and mass shooting. Again, more than 60 people killed. They shot men, and forced women to watch. Every woman truly knows the pain of losing a child, a brother, a husband, a friend or a fiancé! Later, a newspaper reported that the police turned up ten hours after the first attack, yet they had received warning of the looming incursion before time. The assailants must have had a walk in the park burning hotels, restaurants and houses, maybe for the satisfying gift of 72 virgins later in paradise.
Recently, Mandera quarry attack: Thirty six killed. Victims were made to line up, some shot, some beheaded. This came days after the Mandera bus attack, where 28 Christians’ lives were stolen in one swift blow. “Three survivors bought their second chance to life by reciting the Quran verses. The women and men remaining outside were separated and shot at close range, none survived!” (Said an eye witness)
Wikipedia search on my phone, ‘Jamhuri day’…
‘Kenyan National holiday celebrated on 12th December to mark official establishment of Kenya as a republic. Most important holiday, numerous cultural heritage festivities’…Tomorrow will be that day!! Yaaay, Long weekend ahead full of cultural heritage festivities’. GUSTO
The voices replaying faintly through my mind, teary eyes and my heart throbbing…we cannot fight terrorism, we cannot throw the baby…
Tomorrow, there will be celebrations, ‘cultural heritage festivities’. We will childishly watch some half dressed traditional dancers shaking their stiff bodies, listen to some budding spoken word masters struggling to be fluent but unable to conceal the local dialect influence, probably replacing R with L while talking of Kenya the paradise, and oh Kenya the land of milk and honey. Paradoxically trying to sound like the same Britons from whom we celebrate freedom. Some musicians are now rehearsing on the songs of victory they will present to the hungry crowd with rusted guitars and sharp voices. People will give stiff smiles to the cameras anticipating that they will appear on National TV…and later we will hear speeches that I do not want to think through, and of course, people will clap their hands in the hope of getting noticed and being rewarded heavily for taking time off their busy schedules to attend this ceremony and paying attention to the end! But I won’t, I WILL NOT CLAP.
Until there is a sound security system in the country, until we all learn to look beyond religion and together work towards a peaceful cohesion, and understand that fighting for peace by blood and machetes is like making love to someone to prove that you are a virgin, until we know that peace is the undying individual commitment to respect the other and that what happens to the least of us affects us all as a nation, until such a day comes, I refuse to clap my hands in disdain.