The events of Thursday the 2nd April, 2015, will remain in the minds of most Kenyan folks for several decades and in others forever, especially those directly affected by the said events.
That is the day gunmen stormed Garissa University College and opened fire on students getting ready to start their day. Unknown to the unsuspecting students, this Thursday morning would be a day like no other. The occurrences of the day would change everything for most members of the institution. Dreams would be shattered completely and forever. An unbelievingly huge number of students would be reunited with their maker under brutal circumstances.
Thursday the 2nd April spelled doom for Kenya and her people. Cries of desperation and despondency rent the air, not only in Garissa where the helpless students waited for their turns to be massacred, but in the entire nation. The distressed parents, guardians, siblings, relatives and friends of the students drawn from various parts of the country made futile distress calls in a bid to save the lives of their kin; people they treasured; people they have invested so much in; to some parents their only hope of a good life. Thus on the day over 148 lives were lost to a terror attack at Garissa University College, more deaths than just the 148 occurred. Hopes and aspirations were killed, brilliance and splendor were massacred, and monumental dreams were buried, never to be revived.
Biblical fire and brimstone were visited on the Kenyan people and there was no one to save them from dying. It was like the Day of Judgment had descended upon the people, or the era of the antichrist had finally come, when all Christians must suffer in the hands of the demon as a cost of Christianity. No words, written before or in the future, can sufficiently describe the real picture at Garissa University College and the true feelings of the victims’ relations on Thursday 2nd April. Had this murderous act been committed on 1st April, and its news circulated that morning, most people would have prayed that it be an April Fools’ Day prank, but again who fools with allegations of terrorist attack on students? That would make it to the Guinness World Records as the most disastrous joke of all times. But no, this was real, it was indeed happening. Young men and women from the college were under the mercy of a terror group using religion to propagate atrocities.
As the brutality meted on the students continued, going on for close to a whole day, survivors and those not yet reached by the brutes hoped against hope that the government would use its security operatives to contain the situation. They prayerfully hoped that the Kenya Defense Forces, who for a better part of the day were within the precincts of the institution, would silence the criminals. But for many students this was not to be. The terrorists were having a field day. They could as well massacre all the students, hadn’t they all the time, arms and ammunitions? The Defense Forces were equally helpless. A few officers were already down courtesy of the terrorists, sending dread to the other officers. Meanwhile the government’s Cabinet Secretary for Interior and the Inspector General of Police were flown to a safe point in Garissa Town and from there issued press briefs on the situation.
Without delving further into the details of Thursday the 2nd April terror attack on the college, the attack re-opened the wounds of several terror instances that Kenyans have suffered in the hands of fanatics over the years. Not only that, this attack cast aspersions on the Kenyan security system and importantly, the country’s disaster response preparedness. The role of the National Intelligence Service was once again subjected to cross-examination. A week or so before the deadly attack, the British government had issued travel advisories to its citizens, warning of imminent terror attacks in Kenya. The government of Kenya rubbished the advisories as being instigated by considerations other than security only two days before the attack was launched. Do nations with intelligence systems able to detect such threats and issue travel advisories to their citizens have a role in trying to avert such occurrences? Can’t the intelligence be shared for purposes of saving humanity, other than warning a nation’s citizens?
However, willingness to receive and act upon shared intelligence is in my view a prerequisite to such sharing. But it is not enough for foreign countries to issue travel advisories to their citizens, wait till the locals are massacred, then issue statements of their repulsion at the coldhearted act. When all is said and done, however, the buck stops with the government! The buck stops with the President who vowed to protect Kenyans against all kinds of onslaught. He cannot pass the buck to anyone else, not even to another government for failing to do anything.
May the souls of the over 148 Kenyans – students and security personnel alike- rest in eternal peace, and may Kenya find a lasting solution to the surge of insecurity within the Kenyan borders and along Kenya’s borders.
About me: A community-mobilizer, youth activist and laws graduate, I am the Executive Director of Intreach Community, a civil society organisation involved in philanthropy for impoverished children and other under-served societal groups. I work towards all inclusive political leadership, where the youth, women and children can voice their concerns without fear and where equality and mutual respect thrive; and a society where fundamental human rights are revered.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
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