Saturday, February 8, 2014

Injured MP: I have forgiven my assailants

PHOTO | FILE Kamukunji MP Yusuf Hassan on the day he was given a nomination certificate by TNA ahead of the last general election.

PHOTO | FILE Kamukunji MP Yusuf Hassan on the day he was given a nomination certificate by TNA ahead of the last general election.  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BERNARDINE MUTANU

It has been slightly more than a year since a grenade blast almost killed Kamukunji Member of Parliament Yusuf Hassan in Nairobi’s Eastleigh estate.

Although he was badly injured and is still recovering, the lawmaker says he has forgiven his attackers and moved on.

“I have never allowed this experience to put me down. Those who wanted to take my life failed, and whatever the time, the matter or the effort, I was determined psychologically to mend myself, get up and walk again,” he told the Sunday Nation in an interview.

Mr Hassan says he has no idea about the people behind the attack, explaining that it does not matter whether it was politically instigated or if it was an act of terrorism. His attackers are yet to be apprehended.

The MP, however, says he has lost interest in knowing who they were since the concerned authorities seem to have kept quiet about the issue.

“I am not going to be a captive of assassins. Their intention was very clear, but keeping anger and bitterness and having a vindictive mind will destroy me. Since I let it go, I have peace of mind.”

“I want to say I have forgiven them, but I do not know whether to say so because of the fact that they killed six people,” he said.

The lawmaker now uses crutches and can undertake some light duties unlike months before when he depended on helpers to carry out simple tasks. 

The December 6, 2012 grenade attack at al-Hidaya community centre in Eastleigh left him badly injured.

“I survived because I had just moved from the epicentre of the attack. I missed by a whisker as two or three people who were standing with me and had moved a few seconds before me died,” he said.

He recalls that among the dead were two children. He lost muscles on the left leg and suffered a broken right leg. One of his arms was shattered; he also suffered secondary burns and had to endure the shrapnel stuck in his body.

Mr Hassan spent weeks at the Aga Khan hospital and then moved to South Africa where he underwent reconstructive surgery.

A TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE

“It was a traumatic experience. At one point I would look at my leg, and all I could see were shattered bones. They had to be reconstructed,” he said.

By April 2013 his left leg and hands had healed. But his right leg faced amputation.

“The leg had broken bones. They were removed, but still it would not heal, and I had to go through a second operation. The doctors then decided to amputate because ‘it was not healing properly," he said. He could not bear the news; so he chose to go to the Hospital for Special Surgery, a top orthopaedic facility in the United States where doctors performed a third operation that saved his leg.

“After the surgery at least I could put my foot down and could also move from the wheelchair to a walker, and now to the crutches,” he said. He describes the anguish he went through as a humbling experience. For days, he had to be moved from the bed to his wheelchair and to the bathrooms.

But he said he would not entertain negative feelings capable of killing his spirit.

“It is the kind of immobility that is disempowering; it is despairing when you are unable to carry out the normal functions of life. It gave me an opportunity to reflect,” he said.

The MP also tells off critics who say it was sympathy that got him back to Parliament.

“No TNA candidate got a direct nomination. The idea that somebody stood down for me is false and unfounded,” he said.

He was responding to former Kamukunji MP Simon Mbugua’s claim that he stepped down for him during TNA nominations months before the elections.

“I gave bursaries to 3,500 poor students in my constituency within the two years I was elected to Parliament,” he said.

He is determined to grow his constituency which has already received Sh3 billion from the government for construction and improvement of infrastructure.

BY BERNARDINE MUTANU

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