A Celebration Stuck in the Midst of Tragedy: We must do Something for our Nation.
Just when I thought I was ready to share the awesome news about my acceptance to WIPO Summer School South Africa, tragedy struck my country. My celebration has turned into deep sorrow. I am not sure anymore how I shall proceed from my last post. Getting funding to pursue an academic passion is hard but losing a loved one is harder. Families have lost their loved ones and scores traumatized by this terror attack. I cannot purport to understand their pain or their anguish.
I am sure many of has had something to celebrate: weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and other amazing achievements but we could not celebrate. How could we celebrate when our neighbours were and still are languishing in sadness and anguish? How could we celebrate as our Nation was being shaken by terrorism?
But this has got me thinking a lot. Then I came across a status on my friend’s status update which I want to share.It sums up my thoughts. Read below: posted verbatim. ..
“We must do something!”
24 September 2013 at 16:03
I had an interesting conversation with my friend about this Westgate issue today. Wise man, interesting perspectives, and I thought to document, but also vent. I have been accused of being too clinical about what’s happening in Westgate, and I am, because I am not shocked. Since December 2010 when I had my run in with Al Shabaab, terror became familiar. Every grenade attack in Nairobi, Mombasa, Garissa etc doesn’t shock me, I guess I stopped thinking I am special when that grenade went off at my feet. It became normal. My reaction to Westgate has been your reaction when you hear of a horrid road accident. It’s horrific, but strangely familiar.
Anyway, my friend shared that Westgate is not about Al Shabaab, it’s in a way about us, the apathetic middle class. When the state of our security declined from what it was, we invested in security guards, guard dogs and alarm systems, instead of demanding better of our government. People and institutions tend to live up to their expectations, and because we expected nothing of our internal security, they have lived up to that expectation…porous borders, corruption, waste of resources, the works. We complain about the machete wielding gangs in the slums, yet that’s the lower class also trying to fix their problems.
Yes, Al Shabaab is a Somalia problem, but it is also our problem. It is about youth unemployment and disillusionment. We haven’t fixed their problems, someone else offers them Kshs 40,000 to come back and kill us. The guy who almost blew us up at Kampala Coach wasn’t from Somalia, he wasn’t even Somali. According to escapees, some of the youth killing innocent people in Somalia as Al Shabaab are our youths.
When we hear of gory public vehicle road accidents, we thank God we no longer go anywhere by bus any more, instead of demanding more from the law enforcers. When our roads get potholed, we buy cars with higher clearance (4WDs). When we are caught speeding, the best of us go to court, pay the fine, then speed off, the rest of us bribe and speed off. When public schools decline, we spend millions taking our kids to private schools, then take to social media to mock misplaced government initiatives, because after all, they don’t affect us directly.
The loss of life we are seeing at Westgate, is sadly what the ordinary ‘mwananchi’ goes through on the daily. If it isn’t a road accident in an un-roadworthy bus, it is thugs, or a random grenade. If this happens and they’re injured, all they have is KNH, where there’s a high chance they will succumb to injuries that could easily be treated. But instead of demanding that our NHIF funds are used to fix the health system, we all rush and buy private health insurance, then make noise about NHIF for a day or two on social media.
If PEV had been a middle class thing, if the violence happened in Kilimani or Karen (and other “rich” areas of our country) instead of Kibera and rural Rift Valley for example, would the perpetrators (whoever they are) be in jail today? Chances are, they would be.
This is a rant. I am trying to make sense of what he shared, while at the same time trying to figure out, how do we fix this?
As another friend shared in an earlier post, only the middle class can drive real change in the country.But then how do we fix it? How do we fix a country where an elected leader is busy CHASING BIRDS in Netherlands instead of leading HIS people? How do we fix a country where leaders would rather trade slaps than talk to each other? Where all our leaders think about is their prestige?
How do we fix a country where the majority lower class have lost hope, and a 50 bob election bribe is all it takes to buy their vote?
Where are we supposed to even start? Can we even do anything about this? I don’t know, but something’s has got to give. ”
GOD BLESS KENYA!!!!
We need to take charge. Let us be proactive and involved. As we forge on, we shall struggle to not to cry over spilled milk, but we must forge on. Then we proceed to strengthen our sovereignty. Let us learn from our mistakes and quickly rise to save our Land. We must secure our Land for our children and generations to come.
The power lies with us!
Yes Liz, something has to give. You have a right to rant, if rants are what it takes to wake us up then be it. It is very true what you say about the middle class, when the government structures and institutions fail, we rush to make our own private arrangements instead of demanding better services in exchange for our taxes. Then we rush to the social media to ridicule misguided or misplaced priorities of our so called ‘lost’ government with leaders facing ‘personal problems’ in a far flung cold country. Change begins with me, change begins with us. I demand more, I need more, I am part of the change needed, I am part of the solution. Well said sister!
The update’s author is quite a Confucian.
How true! And this kind of apathy is fueled by ideologies like “accept and move on.” No. The answer is never for a people to turn a blind eye to societal ills. Its for them to demand, with one voice, better from those placed in positions of leadership and authority!
This is very true and very powerful. But we must continue to celebrate our achievements and movements. We must find ways to smile and high five and drive. And yes, we must take charge of the situation.
I agree. We have become complacent. But no matter what we would have said or done, it’s the President’s fault for hiring fake top security officials. Before going into the Al – Shaabab revenge drama, there is no security at the borders in Northern Kenya. To think that it’s so easy to sneak in these weapons, freaks me out. Talked to someone int he Special Forces.