The Bible says that Jesus died for the sins of mankind but here in Kenya 147 young people have died because of the sins of the Country. It would be unwise to generalize and blame the whole Nation but they died because of the sinful nature of the government, some radicalized citizens and sympathizers from within.
“#147 is not just a number,” is what is currently trending in Kenya. This is the hash tag created in the social media circles in recognition, commemoration and discussion of the 147 students who were mercilessly killed in their university by the Somali terrorist group, Al-Shabbab.
Al-Shabbab terrorists descended upon the Garissa university college students very early in the morning as some were in prayers, some in study groups whilst others were still deep in their sleep.
The self proclaimed mujahedeen went from room to room, class to class seeking these young pupils literally beheading some and shooting many others without a care of human life. This incident becomes the second worst terrorist attack in Kenya following closely the 1998 bomb attack of the US Embassy in Nairobi that left more than 213 people dead.
The sins of the Government actions or rather inaction and that of some radicalized citizens led to slaughter of persons who would have been breadwinners for many families.
Just a few days before the devil visited the college, some Western Nations including the UK and Australia issued severe travel advisories to their citizens about traveling to certain parts of Kenya. There were intelligence reports some that were doing round on social media that certain areas were to be attacked.
It would be a fallacy to say that the government was not aware of the impending attack but true to its recent self in the words of the Interior Cabinet Secretary, “the government was caught by surprise.” Indeed even the U.S was caught by surprise in September 2001, but people are supposed to learn from their mistakes, seems we didn’t.
The college attack is very much similar to the September 2013 terrorist attack at the up market Westage shopping mall that left over 65 people dead. After that incident, the Government admitted it had learned how to handle such attacks and it would never happen again, well it did!
In between, there have been other terror attacks including the massacre of 60 people in Mpeketoni near Lamu. This one was blamed on anything but terrorists despite Al-Shabbab admitting responsibility.
Radicalization and religious extremism is growing at an alarming rate and this leaves the terrorists with a pool of people sympathetic to their cause. These are the same people used to hide or courier weapons, deliver communications and also provide Intel. Al-Shabbab has in the past claimed how they have their members even within government offices and security.
It is well known that Majengo slums in Nairobi and Mombasa have provided hundreds of fighters for the terror group. Young boys hopeless about their future ventured into the war torn country to fight and die for religious faith, recognition and also some money for their families. One of the Garissa attackers was well educated and came from a working class family thus just showing that the terror group had also in its ranks persons who were pulled to it for other reasons too.
There are problems in this country, grand corruption, nepotism, negative ethnicity, lack of opportunities etc Problems that if not addressed very soon will more radicalization. This will be beyond religious issues but also social and economic disenfranchisement of many communities and hitting hard on the vulnerable youth.
The theatre of the absurd and sinful ways in dealing with terrorists has also been manifested by some senior leaders in the country. One classic example is Garissa Member of Parliament and majority leader Aden Duale. Rather than be christened Judas, this ‘patriotic Kenyan,’ has given parents in North Eastern a 7 days ultimatum to volunteer information about their children who have joined Al-Shabbab.
This is the same person who coincidentally just a few weeks ago was pressing the government to negotiate with the Somali terror group. “If you want us to send you elders and religious leaders we will do so. If you want us to send you political leaders, we will do so. Just tell us where we should come to meet you but give Kenya a wide berth,” he said. Give Kenya a wide berth and attack other Countries?
Less than a year, Hon. Duale seemingly asked the terror group to focus their attacks elsewhere and not in Eastleigh since it was an economic hub of their own people.
Unfortunately for him they did not heed his advice but rather staged an attack in his own constituency but fortunately for him the terrorists selected their victims on religious basis thus avoiding the massacre of his ‘own people too.’
If our National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale has information on the terrorists, shouldn’t he be sharing with his government instead of making public declarations and calling for press conferences?
The terrorists just like in Westage asked Muslims to identify themselves and they were spared. This in an effort to whip up emotional and probably violent retaliation from persons from other religions but like before this did not happen albeit on social media where battles of words we can’t reprint here is still reigning.
Prevention of violent extremism in the communities and schools especially amongst the youth should be a major priority in our security, defense and counter terrorism strategy. There should be a deliberate effort to strengthen resilience and build a strong tolerant community. Moderate religious leaders should stand up, just as the radical ones are doing, and engage with their flock on being tolerant to other people’s diversity.
Let us critically look at all the drivers to violent extremism groups and try to address the pull and push factors. Many cannot be fully implemented but a discussion and a path created towards actualizing them might lessen the burden of hopelessness.
Before all that is actualized by many credible actors in the community and beyond, as Easter comes to a close, it is for sure that many more innocent people here in Kenya will continue to be crucified but without rising on the third day.