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Crusade bombing has changed Kenya forever

Monday June 14 2010

By MUTUMA MATHIU

You will know a bad one when the tip comes in. Sunday’s grenade attack on a crusade at Uhuru Park doesn’t come any worse.

I knew we were in trouble when I heard that an explosion had gone off in New York in 2001.

Just like I knew that life would never be the same again when, one morning, I saw files from the Teachers Service Commission blown miles into the air in 1998.

So when our News Editor told me somebody had lobbed a grenade into a crowd of crusade goers, I knew at that moment that something had changed our country forever.

Sunday on any newspaper in the world, is not a good bomb day. It’s not a big story day. It’s a slow day because there is no news.

It’s the day when everybody, with the exception of a select few blood-sucking serial killers, take the day off.

We took a taxi to Uhuru Park to see what was going on. It was dark when we got there.

There were a couple of ambulances and Margaret Wanjiru, with her security, was going round to see if anyone needed to be taken to hospital.

William Ruto was giving a press statement next to his car. A few hardy crusade-goers were hanging around, swearing that they would stay until they were all killed.

A grenade is a fragmentation weapon, so we were hoping for evidence of injuries scattered all over.

We saw blood and shoes and a hole in the grass. But it was only on viewing the raw footage that we got a sense of the magnitude.

Misled press

For every inaccurate report in the newspaper, there is a chain of people who have lied and misled the press.

An official I called told me only 24 people had been hurt. Complete disinformation. Our reporter had physically counted 75 patients.

Doctors confirmed that three had died while undergoing treatment and three had succumbed before admission.

Finally, officials speculated that it was a home-made device, made from party crackers. This is what we told Kenyans who read our early editions.

We are surrounded by liars. The government does not hire people to give information to the media. It hires liars to mislead the media.

Mr Mathiu is the managing editor of the Daily Nation