From the simultaneous attacks in Paris to the Christmas market in Berlin and now the events from Manchester, there are a variety of lessons to Kenya’s state of security that has been presented by the series of terrorism attacks across Europe in the recent past. This does not mean that we should be cowed by terrorism neither should we be hell-bent and put all our focus on it because of fear.
Like Manchester and other regions across the globe, Kenya is a diverse country and because terror attacks have been attributed to being crystallized by religiosity affiliations, we are prone and fragile to similar attacks as those in Europe hence measures need to be put in place to curb damage that a terror association may tend inflict.
So, how much have our security agencies and the intelligence system done or put in place to do away with the factors that can lead to possible terror attacks? The main suspect of the fatal attack in Manchester, Salman Abedi, is reputed to be only a twenty two year old and this brings about the topic of radicalization and violent extremism which many Muslim leaders have condemned and termed as heretical.
A survey done by SUPKEM in 2014 indicated that there were almost eight hundred returnees from violent extremist groups in Somalia and with the advent of technology, social media to be precise, the possibility of unemployed youths being integrated into terrorism organizations cannot be ruled out and therefore should be addressed to the core. After being victims of the Al-Shabaab at Westgate and Garissa University College, the discussion that dominated the most were of indoctrination that majorly targeted the youths from the Kenyan coast. . A major problem that we possess is that such discussions often diminish until we experience another attack. The conversations need to be continuing so that we are not caught flat footed.
Another lesson that we can learn from terror attacks in the west is prevention of maximum damage. Both in Paris and Manchester the perpetrators of this heinous act used soft targets to accomplish their missions. It is very disturbing to learn that In Manchester the victims included kids. In this season that major political activities are beginning to take shape vis-à-vis the coming general election, vigilance is something that we need to stress on. Security need to be beefed up in entertainment venues and other places where people congregate.
Proper investing on our intelligence system is also key in ensuring that we remain safe.
Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, once penned ‘political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable and to give an appearance of solidity to pure minds”. Political language has in the recent past been the talking points in many debates as witnessed during the surreal campaign period of the United States election with the focus being on President Trump who many critics continue to describe as ‘the verbiage of victim hood to position himself as American savior’.
Back here in Kenya, especially during such electioneering period, we are used to ‘timeworn propaganda maneuvers used by demagogues who have their backs against the wall appealing to voters’ emotions, rather than their interests’. The use of eloquent clichés and latitudes by local politicians to lure voters was evident during the political party primaries that took place a couple of weeks ago and we are yet to get more of it as we approach the polls. Such are the times when wreck less ethnic political ‘leaders’ are good at rekindling the memories of post-election violence by making hateful remarks hoping to be rewarded by their kingpins.
Political language describes who a politician is and gives the electorate the mirage of what to expect should they elect a leader. From integrity, accountability and competence, the chosen political language by any politician goes deep to influence the choices of the voters.
With the devolve system of governance language and tone of a politician can immensely contribute to the rise or fall of a politician. Though party primaries aren’t guarantee that the elected leaders will automatically clinch the seat in the general election, political language impacted much on why most of the incumbents were surprisingly and unexpectedly defeated.
Being ignorant to the fact that most of the electorate had become more sophisticated, politicians with imaginary promises and who took the advantage of poverty by giving out handouts were astonished when they were rejected at the ballot.
The tone of a politician in such an ethnic polarized country should be that which brings a sense of hope of bringing people together. History puts it vividly by telling us how the founders of this nation embraced statesmanship by championing for independence by using a language that led to the achievement of what we and the future generation will often be proud of.
“Do we still as Kenyans have our national pride, the unifying factors and our dignity intact?” Dennis Macaria once penned down this critical question that true Kenyan citizens need to ask themselves. Let’s be honest our pride has indeed vanquished. Today the thinking of a larger population of Kenyans has shifted from the idealism angle of perceiving various ills that negatively continue to affect the country to the realism view of it. From poor governance, voter bribery to corruption, these ills are today summarized by the common three words “This Is Kenya” and that we cannot expect anything better than the ills that we are used to.
Kenya is a country that started with equal indicators to that of South Korea. After fifteen years the South Korean economy had escalated and grew forty times than that of Kenya. Today qualified employment seekers seeking for positions as low as of that of an intern in various private and government institutions summarize their ordeal of failing to secure jobs as “This is Kenya” .It is either you have some contacts from these organizations or you are known.
The reputed bribery of the officials of the society chosen arbitrator has today made the judiciary to grapple with its reputation by trying hard to maintain its independence and restoring the expected aura and ambience of trust with the public. This has been evident with the way they have dealt with cases concerning the big fish compared to the other cases involving ordinary Kenyans. But this is Kenya…
In his first visit to the country while a senator, Barrack Obama once termed corruption in the country as a crisis. A crisis that today that is continuing to visit and is almost felt in every homestead, from the escalating hike of prices of basic commodities to insecurity.
The only hope that we are remaining with as a country is hope for the unity of our technocrats, cohesive and visionary leadership to permanently replace the blind political entertainment where the top is used to blackmailing the bottom and the bottom is often blaming the top. The hope of “house cleaning and for the citizens to remain optimistic of reconciliation of the ethnically polarized leadership and permanent solution to political squabbles”.
This is Kenya but it is not the Kenya we want neither is it the one that its core founders after the long struggle for its independence hoped for. We need to shift from the dependent style of politics where the agenda and the change that we need is defined by a few greedy individuals to being independent and coming up with ideas of how we need to be governed. The tragic farce of people fighting in order to get their candidates elected and then waiting for another five years of poverty and adversity to fight with each other again need to come to an end.
This is Kenya and we need to make it a better Kenya not just by occasional trip to the ballot but by active involvement in decisions that shape up the agenda and economy of the country.