Kenyans on social media platforms have offered their support to Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and expressed their solidarity with the families of fallen soldiers following an Al-Shabaab attack on a Kenyan base in Somalia.
On Twitter, the hash tags #IStandWithKDF and #63IsNotJustANumber were among the channels through which Kenyans reacted to the attack.
“May the Lord have mercy on us in 2016. Let’s all forgive them. The battle is not ours it is God’s,” posted @eunicevictoriao.
“Even when answers are not given toward the excruciating grief, may God offer his peace to the mourning families,” VJ Onduso tweeted.
In the same vein, businessman Chris Kirubi posted: “Kenya stands because of you. RIP our fallen KDF soldiers. To those left behind, don’t lose hope. Your labour is not in vain.”
Nancy Okutah’s paraphrased message said: “A minute of silence to widows and orphans left behind. May God grant their entire families strength. Kenya mourns KDF heroes.”
On Facebook, the stream messages kept flowing.
“They gave their utmost sacrifice to protect our nation. We thank them for their sacrifice; our modern day heroes. We are deeply indebted to honour them,” stated Mike Githinji.
Amos Bett wrote: “No one ever said that fighting the war against terrorism and defending our homeland would be easy. So let’s support our troops, law enforcement workers, and our mission to keep our nation and our children safe in the days and years to come.”
As the condolence messages came in, the debate on whether or not Kenyan forces should continue staying in Somalia was raging, with some users questioning the wisdom of Kenyan troops being in Somalia since 2011.
“How many more of KDF personnel do you want to die in Somalia, Mr President, before you can bring our troops home?” posted Gordon Teti in a public Facebook group.
“Since 2013 we have been observing a lot of one-minute-of-silence. It’s almost clocking an hour now!” exclaimed Tony Kay on Twitter.
“As we support #IStandWithKDF We Must demand that @UKenyatta deals with military officials in illegal charcoal trade strengthening Shabaab,” posted Cyprian Nyakundi, referring to reports that have been compiled in the past accusing some military officials of being complicit in the trade deals that propel Al-Shabaab.
Posting in support of KDF’s stay in Somalia, Sammy Mexx wrote: “To those who think that we should withdraw, it’s only the dead who have seen the end of war. I pray to God to give the men and women in uniform more courage to face these cowards, Al-Shabaab.”
The social network users also sought to remind the government about the welfare of the families left behind. “We are watching the next step the government will take for the KDF families, and the country.”