What do these four incidents have in common?
Last week 52 people were killed in clashes between members of the Pokomo and Orma communities in Tana River.
The two communities have been locked in a war over land, pasture and water.
The next day, two newspapers called the killings a “massacre” in front-page headlines.
It was grim reading. All local and international media noted that they were the worst such attacks in Kenya since the post-election violence of 2008.
On July 1, the worst of a series of terrorist attacks on churches happened in Garissa.
In all, 17 people were killed and 45 wounded in grenade attacks on the Garissa Catholic and African Inland Church (AIC) churches.
Security forces blamed the Somali militant group, Al-Shabaab, and its sympathisers in the area.
Eager to signal that the Garissa Muslim community opposed the attacks, the local mosque leadership mobilised their youth to protect churches in the area.
Between May and July, three terrorist bombs were set off in Nairobi churches.
The churches responded by hiring private security firms to check worshippers for weapons as they entered prayer houses.
A newspaper had a guard with a handheld metal detector checking worshippers, with the headline “God’s Soldiers”.
Then on Monday, a yet unidentified assailant shot and killed controversial Muslim preacher Sheikh Aboud Rogo.
Enraged youths went on a rampage, attacking and looting churches. The riots continued on Tuesday during which one security officer was killed in a grenade attack. Two others died later in hospital.
The common thing about all these incidents is that they are private solutions to national security problems.
In Tana River the Pokomo and Orma felt the State had failed to intervene to resolve their dispute, so they resorted to their spears and machetes.
In Garissa, Muslim youth became the local anti-terrorism police. In Nairobi, the churches took the private initiative to pay private security firms to protect them against possible terrorist attacks.
And in Mombasa this week, youths did not wait for the State to apprehend Rogo’s killer. They took matters in their hands.
The churches in Mombasa that have not yet been attacked have probably now hired private guards.
This proliferation of private citizen initiatives to deal with problems that the State should be handling is happening all over East Africa, but they are particularly sharp in Kenya.
This lack in faith in the State is contradictory, because Kenya was swept with optimism in 2010 after the new Constitution, the second most liberal in Africa after South Africa’s, was passed.
And the South African constitution is better only in one regard – it grants broad gay rights, but Kenya’s doesn’t.
The 2010 Constitution was an ambitious and bold State re-engineering project, following the 2008 PEV in which nearly all State and national institutions were discredited.
Today, the euphoria of 2010 is being replaced by a creeping mood of despair and cynicism. The miracle didn’t happen for most Kenyans.
This is best exemplified by the idea that the one institution that can save Kenya’s democracy is the reformed Judiciary.
In the last two months, I tried to keep a tally of stories and columns in the papers with headlines saying “only” the Judiciary can save the Constitution and country. I stopped a few days when they reached 100!
Even then, the view that the Judiciary is Kenya’s remaining saviour is not universal.
Conventional wisdom early last year was that under the new Constitution, the elections were to take place this August.
Others argued December was the date. The matter went to court, which ruled that they be held by March 2013.
In the two months, I found 20 stories and references in which the current “political mess” was being blamed on the Judiciary.
Critics argue that it committed the “original sin” by recklessly kicking the election date to March next year. And with that, it gave untrustworthy politicians the signal that the Constitution was game.
Today, it feels that Kenya didn’t take that big step forward in 2010. Public scepticism towards power gives the impression that all the country has done since 2008 is to reinvent the past.