FRONTROW: Let’s show terrorists that we are not cowed - Daily Nation

Let’s show terrorists that we are not cowed by their awful attacks

Monday November 16 2015

People mourn in front of the cafe

People mourn in front of the cafe "Bonne biere" in Paris, on November 15, 2015, following a series of coordinated attacks in and around Paris on November 13. Seven of the gunmen wearing suicide belts died in the bloodshed. PHOTO | AFP 

By LARRY MADOWO
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“later that night

I held an atlas in my lap

ran my fingers across the whole world

and whispered

where does it hurt?

 

it answered

everywhere

everywhere

everywhere.” – Warsan Shire

 

After a moment of silence for the victims of Friday night’s Paris terrorist attacks, the French National Assembly broke into a spontaneous rendition of their national anthem, on Saturday.

The last time that happened was November 11, 1918, after the liberation of France in the First World War.

The country also closed its borders, an  action it last took in 1944 when the Nazis invaded it. The iconic Eiffel Tower’s lights were turned off for the first time since 1958.

It was the second major attack in the French capital this year, just 10 months after the horrific Charlie Hebdo attack on journalists.

The attack was the worst in the country since the Second World War.

The world was shocked and support flowed in from around the globe. #PrayForParis was a widely used hashtag on social media to express solidarity with the French people.

The world’s media scrambled to get there; CNN sent in at least 70 people on the first day. “I am not trying to be bad here, but what happened in Paris is nothing compared to what is happening in

Syria, Iraq, Palestine after five hours: children, women dying every day,” wrote user njomo04 on my Instagram image of the Eiffel Tower.

“But because it has happened in Paris, now some people are saying we pray for them!!” He had a point, of course.

“These types of tragedies are all equally horrific. The problem is that coverage cannot, and will not, ever be equal,” tweeted South African rapper AKA.

France might have declared a state of emergency, but another tragedy in a different part of the world was going almost unnoticed. Two suicide bombers on motorcycles had killed at least 43 people and wounded more than 200 others in a predominantly Shia area of southern Beirut, Al Jazeera English reported.

ISIS had claimed responsibility for both the French and Lebanese attacks, but only one was getting international attention.

NO FACEBOOK SAFE BUTTON

“It seems clear to me that to the world, my people’s deaths in Beirut do not matter as much as my other people’s deaths in Paris,” wrote a French Lebanese blogger Joey Ayoub. “‘We’ don’t get a safe button on Facebook.

‘We’ don’t get late night statements from the most powerful men and women alive and millions of online users.”

President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is touring the west of the country, sent his condolences.

“The French made famous the call for ‘liberté, egalité, fraternité’, which reflects the common values that Kenyans share with them, and that are under attack by terrorists in Paris and across the world,” his statement said.

“As a nation that has suffered similar outrage, we understand that the attacks in Paris must be met with the strongest action by our security forces.”

The irony and speed of his response was not lost on observers. “Uhuru sent his condolences for #ParisAttacks hours after it happened,” pointed out the activist Boniface Mwangi before a talk at Yale.

“Took him days to acknowledge 147 killed in Kenya, Garissa terror attack.”

“Over 200,000 people have died in Syria in the past 4.5 years. That’s a Paris attack every single day. That’s what the refugees are fleeing.”

It was the New York-Based Adam Khan who captured the delicate connection between Europe’s immigrant crisis and the attacks.

“To people blaming refuges for attacks on Paris tonight, do you not realise these are the people the refugees are trying to run away from?”

That was a popular refrain and it brought much-needed perspective to often angry commentary devoid of any nuance.

On Saturday evening, I spoke to the French Ambassador to Kenya, Mr Rémi Maréchaux, who rightly pointed to terrorism being a global challenge. “One of the attackers was a French citizen, as was the case in the Garissa attack here,” he pointed out.

“Both Kenya and France have youth getting radicalised and carrying out attacks at home.”

If the terrorists had their way, we wouldn’t leave our homes out of sheer fright. We wouldn’t go to work or take our kids to school or attend social gatherings.

They wouldn’t want students learning to take on the world in Garissa, or tourists going to gawk at the Eiffel Tower.

The Islamic State terror organisation called Paris “the capital of prostitution and vice” while gloating over the killings “of the crusaders in their very own homeland”.

But the French people were unbowed, offering support and shelter to fellow residents or visitors with such strong acts of humanity that it put the terrorists to shame.

Debate about the disproportionate coverage of similar attacks in the global south aside, we can’t let the terrorists win. We must go on.

***

Just why was Davido carrying Sh5.5m in cash?

Wealthy popular musician Davido was hanging out in Sandton, South Africa, last weekend when he was involuntarily relieved of his money.

I know Sandton is posh because I used to work there in a previous life when I spewed numbers for a living.

It is a wealthy part of Johannesburg and is considered the richest square mile in Africa. That also means it is a good target for those seeking to redistribute the wealth of the one percenters that frequent, always involuntarily.

Young Davido just happened to have $55,000 with him in cash when this robbery happened. His tweets were suspiciously short on detail, leaving one to wonder if he was carrying the said cash in a see-through bag, or if they were all plastered on his person.

“Right in the middle of Sandton,” he tweeted, leaving us with more questions than answers.

“Never travelling without my gang again.” Confusingly, he declared that he still had love for South Africa.

The Nigerian musician was in South Africa en route to Atlanta, where he’s said to be based. I am familiar with maps and Johannesburg is not on anybody’s way to America. Also, who walks around with Sh5.5 in cash and two Rolexes?

 

***

Tolerance lessons from former president Kibaki

“People should learn to listen to each other,” said former president Mwai Kibaki.

Speaking in Kikuyu, he added: “Even that person who does not like you, just listen to him, he might say a word which may be of help to you.”

He was giving these lessons to the Jubilee government — read President Uhuru Kenyatta — on how to handle the Opposition and their never-ending opinions on everything.

That seems about right because Number 3 treated every form of dissent or opposition to his rule with nothing more than mild disinterest.

A friend once recounted how his lieutenants allegedly came to report on Raila Odinga’s heightened activity when he  was prime minister.

He is reported to have listened keenly, then invited them to tea. He didn’t discuss the subject again and never did anything. “If someone is not able or cannot serve the country diligently, they should just turn to God and pray for that person.”