“Kenya Unbowed!” “We Are One” and “#147NotJustANumber” were some of the headlines during the Easter weekend after the terror attack in Garissa that led to the loss of over 147 lives. Yes, one hundred and forty seven young and promising lives. This was the saddest Easter season in the history of this country.
The same disaster that brought this nation to its knees also made Kenyans and the world over take a stand in solidarity with the victims. I am sure that is a card the selfish terrorist had not thought about. Kenyans donated blood, gave foodstuffs and offered counseling to the victims and their families for days. The social media went viral as the world over condemned the attacks. In anger, images of the slain terrorists went viral and so did the photos of Kenya’s security elite squad, Recce as they put to an end the standoff at the university.
The Garissa attack is still a very sensitive issue to the affected families and Kenyans at large, however there is need to pause and reflect on how we are handling the entire situation. I love the fact that we are very resilient as a nation. We have an extra ordinary drive to pick ourselves up and continue with our lives. This is a good thing but only if we learn from our mistakes.
So, was Kenya really unbowed that weekend? Are we unbowed today? Who said we are unbowed? Is it the victims of the attack, their families or the rest of the country? Who wasn’t on their knees that weekend? Whose heart wasn’t shattered as the number of deaths increased every hour? Who did not pray that terrorists would burn alive without the option of death? Who did not wish that they had certain supernatural powers to rescue the innocent university students? Then how is it that our headlines were “Kenya Unbowed?”
I cringed at the thought of what the students experienced that early morning; terror, panic and confusion with nowhere to run for hours!Calling your parents and hearing their voices for the last time, soaking yourself in a pool of blood so that you can appear dead when the terrorist walk on your throat, hiding in the closet and under the bed for hours and hours on end, kneeling waiting for your turn to be shot as bodies drop one by one next to you, gathering the courage to save yourself and running because your life depended on it. Unbowed? We are One?
Parents must have been looking forward to see their children during the Easter season or at least hear from them. Some parents had taken loans to take their children to the university; a sacrifice worth making. Some parents had exhausted their lifetime savings so that their kids would have a chance of a better life. Their children were full of dreams and vigor to change their lives and that of their country. A phone call from the terrorist as they mercilessly shot the students is not human in anyway. Those parents will never forget the screams of their children or the voice of the terrorists. Some will forever blame themselves for taking their children to the institution. Kenya Unbowed?
How dare you and I say how unbowed we are? What do we know about pain and terror? Many parents would not even identify their own children’s bodies because they were disfigured while others will have to live with a traumatized child without an idea of what they can do end the misery. How many of the victims have contemplated suicide maybe that would stop the nightmares they have in broad day light? Do we still think Kenya is Unbowed?
Let’s not forget that the terrorists had families too. They were born and nurtured by a mother and father somewhere. They grew up within a family of brothers and sisters who will forever suffer for the selfish actions of their siblings. Their parents are hurting too. We all probably think it’s their fault that their children turned out to be terrorist but they too are in as much pain probably even more because the flesh of their flesh went against everything they sacrificed for them to take innocent lives. They too need comforting and validation that it’s not their fault. Imagine what the look on people’s eyes and their whispers are doing the terrorists families? No one is telling their story, they too are victims but do we think they are unbowed?
What about the leadership of the country? Are they unbowed? I am sure our leaders are all too familiar with the security situation in the country but none of them ever thought it would cost the country so much. Neither did you and I. We are a nation in pain. A nation with so many questions. A helpless nation not hopeless but helpless. Helpless that we cannot turn back the hands of time and save the young lives that we lost that morning. Helpless that no matter what we say or do even though important, will never bring back the lost lives. Nothing we can ever offer compares to the loss these families experienced. The lives of the survivors will never be the same again. They will forever bear wounds and scars that only eternity can heal, if it is meant to.
So dear brothers and sisters, we are not unbowed. Far from it. We are crippled by pain and questions. We are on our knees. Our hearts are full of anger, hate and we cry for vengeance. We are bowed. But just for now. Tomorrow beckons. Even though we are wounded and have lost so much, tomorrow brings hope. This hope however needs not to be a false sense of calm. This hope should be a promise to our country that never again will we (citizens and the government alike) leave our posts unattended. This hope dictates that You and I become vigilant to secure our own future by securing our country.
We are bowed. Yet we rise. We rise.
Edited by Wanjiku Kimaru