Is Garissa another Westgate?
What you need to know:
- Three weeks after the second worst attack on Kenyan soil, Garissa is starting to resemble the other modern-day mystery of the current administration, the Westgate mall attack.
- There are more questions than there are answers about the events of that Thursday morning and the weeks after. Why were just four terrorists allowed to kill students for a full 12 hours before they were “neutralised”?
- Most survivors have had no proper pyscho-social support or even basic counselling, save for those who came into contact with a few volunteers.
Did we send our children to Garissa to die? I ask because even when it became apparent that the campus was a confirmed target for a terrorist attack, little attention was paid to their wellbeing.
One resident reported to the authorities six different times that the Al-Shabaab terrorist group was planning to attack the university and nothing was done about all those warnings, according to a parliamentary report.
In December last year, the students say, they were forced to go home without doing exams because of fears of an imminent attack.
And at least a week before the attack finally happened, the students were openly talking about an impending hit on the school. If the intelligence trickled down to the student population, law enforcement must have been swimming in it.
Three weeks after the second worst attack on Kenyan soil, Garissa is starting to resemble the other modern-day mystery of the current administration, the Westgate mall attack.
There are more questions than there are answers about the events of that Thursday morning and the weeks after. Why were just four terrorists allowed to kill students for a full 12 hours before they were “neutralised”?
Imagine the agony of a student hiding under a bed in a room that became the terrorists’ base after they had shot dead all its occupants.
For hours, he lay there and prayed that help would come, yet it never did. At any moment, they could have looked down and killed him too.
The inspector general of police Joseph Boinett didn’t ask for a plane to transport the elite Recce Company until 11am. By the time that commando team from the General Service Unit was boarding the plane at Wilson Airport, most of the students killed were already dead.
Had the Recce unit got on the ground as soon as all the facts became available, how many lives could have been saved? We will never know and are left to theorise about what should have been the most logical course of action.
After that tragedy and the universal condemnation for the painfully slow response, have deployment procedures been reviewed?
The police have not even bothered to release an official report about the attack, the final tally of casualties and the actions they will take to prevent another attack.
Shouldn’t somebody take responsibility for failing those 148 children?
The blame needs to lie somewhere, and right now all the authorities have fallen back into a comfortable silence. Even the names of the three other terrorists in the company of the “brilliant upcoming lawyer” Abdirahim Rashid have not been released.
There is no guarantee that the Recce team will have a plane ready when they next get their marching orders, and there has been no communication or roadmap about how to better share actionable information between the National Intelligence Service and law enforcement.
Are there any updates to building regulations for hostels to include more exits and panic buttons? Surely an attack this tragic should have necessitated a review of existing structures and compelled public institutions to ensure occupants of public enclosures have multiple ways out.
The silence from all the necessary quarters indicates that there were no lessons learnt from the Garissa University College attack.
If that is the case, how, then, can you expect the nearly 700 students who survived it to feel comfortable in a similar setting anywhere else?
Survivors have told me of colleagues whose parents have decided that they will not be joining Moi University’s main campus in Eldoret.
Having escaped death so narrowly once, they are not ready to risk their children’s lives again as they fear that such an attack could happen again.
They are completely justified, considering how carelessly they have been treated since the attack. They demand and deserve answers but nobody is providing any. Most survivors have had no proper pyscho-social support or even basic counselling, save for those who came into contact with a few volunteers.
The Al-Shabaab group has successfully managed to plant fear in the hearts of ordinary Kenyans and driven a rift between Christians and Muslims. If there are no signs that Garissa was a wake-up call, is the government waiting for an even bigger tragedy before it acts?
In Afrophobic attacks down south, Africa is killing her sun
“You know what’s wrong with South Africa? All you foreigners. You must all go back to where you came.” Those were the opening lines of a 2012 ad by the South African fast food chain Nando’s.
It then showed the different nationalities disappearing in a whiff of smoke as the narrator called them out. In the end, there was just a bushman with loincloth left. “I’m not going anywhere,” he said in a local dialect as subtitles translated.
“You *[email protected]#* found us here.” It was a tongue-in-cheek ribbing of the country’s fragile relations with foreigners, but the Advertising Standards Authority banned it anyway. It still got over 1.5 million views on YouTube.
The violent Afrophobia that has sprung up again in South Africa is a searing reminder of the lasting after-taste of apartheid.
The most deprived of the black population is fed up with their lack of opportunity and are taking it out on those they see as freeloaders.
When then CNBC Africa chief editor Godfrey Mutizwa asked a few of us what we thought of the ad, I said it was brilliant and we should air it, but most disagreed and it never ran. Mutizwa, a fine journalist by every objective measure, is Zimbabwean.
Shouldn’t he be able to work wherever he wants? Shouldn’t we all?
Kudos, Nzioka. Now, deliver the promise!
What exactly does a Secretary of Delivery do? “Pumwani Hospital finally gets a boost for expectant mums as Nzioka Waita appointed Secretary of Delivery,” tweeted Eric Amalia.
A lot of other people wanted to know if that meant that he was the new office messenger.
Except he really can’t be, seeing as the former Safaricom Corporate Affairs director is a “brilliant young man”, as his former boss Bob Collymore called him.
An advocate of the high court, a rally driver and a public relations authority, he is just the kind of person you need if you need things to move in an office.
Even though his exact role is still largely unclear, it was hailed as a step in trying to professionalise the president’s office by bringing in more corporate experience. He reports directly to the president, according to insiders.
There must be a reason for that, especially in a public service weighed down by bureaucracy.
All the best, Nzioka!