The Westgate Mall attack was as senseless and barbaric as the one of 15 years ago, the US Embassy Nairobi bombing of August, 7th 1998. The heinous Saturday, September 21st attack, left behind immense loses for the country. 67 innocent people were confirmed killed, some 240 injured and properties valued at billions of Kenya shillings destroyed or looted
Meantime the residents in the North Eastern Counties such as Mandera, Wajir and Garissa are continuing to experience heightened bombings at public places and attacks on police posts.
As many people of all nationalities come to terms with the realities of the senseless losses or injuries of their loved ones, may God the Almighty grant those injured quick recoveries and those bereaved strength and comfort to overcome their grief and pain.
The Westgate attack savage as it was, ironically brought definitive lessons and the best out of Kenyans. The Nation’s eyes are focused on the horizon. Never bet against the spirit, resilience, patriotism, unity, generosity, bravery and reliability of Kenyans and their international friends. Everywhere the feelings are what a US Second World War General, McArthur called, Duty, Honour, Country and KDF as Country, Mission, Team, Self.
Following the attack on the Shopping Mall, people of all walks of life, myself included, poured in overwhelming with blood donations, financial, food, water and all other kinds of contributions volunteering so much so that President Uhuru Kenyatta emotionally described the public response as “nothing short of wonderful”.
These few lines titled “The Nation’s Laughter”, which I wrote many years back as a young Air Force officer could as well best describe the courage demonstrated by the members of KDF, the National Police Service and even some heroic members of the public including Kenya Red Cross volunteers on 21st September.
“I belief in my country, one of God’s greatest prize of creation. Personal gain is least of my priorities, public service is a great gift, most fulfilling of all. In sleep, I am always in my boots. Hardly do I glance at beauty. For it takes me away from duty, Kenya Hakuna Matata.
If a country is worth living, it is worth loving, defending and dying for. If I perish in the line of duty, do not cry at my burial. Just take care of my family. And let the Nation’s laughter endure across oceans for ever. Where ever the morning dew the sunlight finds”.
In the meantime serious questions are piling up. Did the terrorists escape? With hindsight, what have we not done right for this massacre to happen in the capital city of Nairobi, undetected in advance by our supposedly alert National Intelligence Machinery? What can be done now to avoid any future similar or even more devastating incidents?
Preparation, More Preparations
There are no perfect answers to all questions. No silver bullets. Terrorism has existed for 2,000 years. It is as old as human’s willingness to use violence to achieve political ends. The scourge of terrorism has social and psychological motivation and underpinnings. However, first as experts and the parliamentary committees examine certain concerned matters and also determine where do the buck stops, the role of the respective county Governments in public safety and security need to be enhanced from the Ward Administrators to the Governors to complement those of the National Security Agencies.
All the 47 counties can benefit from establishing Offices for Emergencies, Planning, and Management and Coordination (OE-PMC), well resourced, well staffed as places of caring for the public in the totality of their daily lives and businesses. The themes here are preparation, preparation, more preparations and over deliveries of public charter visions. The despicable crime of terrorism visited upon Westgate not withstanding, Kenyans are ever ‘unbowed’ and never bowing to evil whatever it is nature or origin.
As for Al Shabaab, it is simply a by-product of the failed State of their country. Their antidote is political and economic and reverse engineering of their terrorism. The international community should continue helping generously in every kind possible the Federal and Regional States Authorities in Somalia to be strong, self-sustaining and working again for the dignity and prosperity of their long suffering peoples.
In meantime, Al Shabaab is bitter. Very angry for the loss of Kismayu Port. In Westgate they have tested blood. They have done dress rehearsal for bigger prize. Our cities maybe under serious threats before things become better. Enemy of security is ‘island of peace’ complacencies. We need therefore, to be red alert countrywide.
Writer is a social commentator.