Garissa Attack: We Shall Not Forget
By Judyannet Muchiri
When 147 young people die in a single day, there is a problem. When these people are shot to their deaths, there is an even bigger problem.
This is what happened in Garissa University College where militants broke into the university, injured and killed students. To start with, regardless of what may have provoked this heinous act, young lives were cut short in the most brutal way and in the most improbable place. This can’t be allowed to continue. We have to stop gambling with people’s lives.
For the last couple of years there has been a pattern of terrorist attacks in Kenya – from Mpeketoni to WestGate and now to Garissa. When these attacks occur Kenya and to some extent the world is thrown into a fit of sadness, mourning, complaints and demands for the government to do more. However, these emotions – anger and sadness soon dissolve into the background. People move on to the next issue at hand, as if the terrorist attack never happened.
Enough is enough!
And these young souls – the victims of the recent attack – shouldn’t be forgotten and relegated to the dark history of Kenya. When people forget and, God forbid, move on then what happens is that these attacks become normal in society. This is why there is a need to stop the attacks before they become the ‘norm’.
With regional and international politics, it is easy for the government leaders to get caught up in other activities that may blind them and prevent the fulfillment of its first duty – to protect all Kenyans.
It has been argued that the reason behind these attacks by the Al Shabaab is because of the presence of the Kenyan Forces in Somali. Whether or not this is the reason, the government needs to rise up and put the safety of Kenyans first. This will not happen by erecting walls in the borderlines because walls can be blown up and as it is common knowledge there are other ways through which militants can penetrate into the country.
The regional governments must also address the Somali question because this also has an effect on the security of Kenya. Now more than ever the AU must rise up and in a serious manner address the growing insecurity in many African countries as well as the worrying frequency of terror attacks and come up with practical solutions that can move Africa to a state of peaceful coexistence.
A worrying trend is that there is an increase in cases of local youth turning out to be the attackers as was seen in the Garissa Attack. More and more young people are being radicalized and recruited into terrorist groups. The question the government needs to consider before this situation escalates is why these young people are joining the groups.
Are there more young people who’ve been pushed to the margins of society by the education system, or by the job market, or by the fact that they belong to a certain descent? It is also important to evaluate the role that religion and religious institutions are playing in radicalizing young people. Religion has always had some autonomy from the state but with the recent events in the government need to step in and determine if these religious institutions are breeding grounds for homegrown terrorists.
The loss of 147 lives also brings forth questions of how well versed we are in disaster preparedness and management. For one, two, three…and one hundred and forty seven young people to be shot where were the police? How fast was the response team? Is Kenya well equipped with enough resources to mitigate a disaster in the shortest time possible? Are more state resources being used for private work by state officials rather than the intended work? How efficient are the communication systems within the Kenyan police in the event of a disaster? Could it have been possible to prevent all these deaths? Was the situation handled in the best way possible? Were the students well trained on how to react in case of a terror attack?
Kenya at this moment needs a comprehensive disaster management policy that will help people stay informed on how to react in the event of disasters.
Yesterday sadly marked one year since more than 200 girls were abducted from a school in Chibok, Nigeria, by armed militants. In the wake of the Garissa attack in the university, it is thus of great concern that militants are turning to schools to pass across a message to the people. Attacking schools is such a strong strategy because it robs off a country’s future- some of the very best minds that were being honed in the confines of the school.
If there is one thing that proponents of terror are afraid of, it is education because they know that with education then any country is on a trajectory towards development. By crippling the educational institutions then they cripple the efforts of a country towards self-sustainability. This should not however deter young people, on the other hand it should be a call for the government to invest more in education and for young people to go on and get an education to the highest level possible.
It is hoped that there will be more commitment towards education especially in Garissa.
Judyannet is an African crusader and changemaker who strongly believes Africa is an equal participant in global affairs and should be treated as such. She, therefore, works in the community in various projects to lead Africa further down the road to sustainability. She foresees a youth-led development in Africa which will not only be inclusive but fueled by technology and new media. She believes in the power of new media in bringing the youth together for a common good and does so at Network of African Youths for Development (NAYD) as a social media editor and blogger. She also co-hosts #NaydChat a weekly chat focusing on development work in Africa and convenes #RightAfrika an open platform which brings young people together once a month to hold conversations on Africa. She is also a creative writer specializing in short fiction. She holds a BA in Sociology and English Linguistics.
Image source: GlobalVoices