Trust Kenyan peculiarities to stay put even when disaster strikes

Thursday January 24 2019

More by this Author

In light of the Riverside attack, it would seem that Kenyans are very good at a number of things.

One, we are good at getting information out when something terrible is happening, which shouldn’t be the case. The first tweets from the scene made it sound like it was a robbery, or a tyre burst – but it was immediately clear that something was indeed happening.

What else are we good at? Fuelling panic. Granted, a certain level of panic was indeed necessary, to enable people to act in a manner that would save their lives – there are numerous examples of people pretending to be dead so that the attackers wouldn’t notice that they were still breathing, for example. But the fuelling of said panic also had alternate repercussions – such as people incessantly calling their loved ones, and thus potentially putting them in the line of danger, in such a manner that would endanger their lives.

Then, there was the whole New York Times nonsense, in which a Kenyan journalist sold to them pictures of dead Kenyans, bloodied and beaten, for them to display on their headlines. The rudeness and audacious caucasity of this act did not go unseen by Kenyans, even in spite of our grieving – numerous people I know, on principle, have unsubscribed to NYT; there are petitions going around, till today, with 25,000 signatures from Kenyans demanding respect for our dead, and Kenyans on Twitter refusing to let the paltry weak-minded excuses from NYT and its subsequent reporters and supporters fly under the glaring light of logic, humanity and basic decency.

There are so many petitions to sign, and so many causes to back, but this one, for some reason, immediately trended. It may have been the season it was crafted in, but I tend to think that this petition was a manifestation of something else Kenyans are good at – directing their anger at what they feel they can control. We could not be at Dusit2 tracking down the terrorists; we could not be on a podium at a press conference reassuring people that everything would be ok, that the government was doing everything in its power to find these ungodly miscreants intent on taking human lives – so we did one of the things that we could, which was finding a voice on a petition that felt like it could do more than we could do individually.

We do this with politics too. You don't bother much about who your weed-smoking governor is, so even whether you vote or not, you won’t make too much noise about it. But dare Koffi Olomide kick one of his back up dancers! We can’t strike when fuel goes up, but if CNN ever tells us anything negative ever again…you get the drift. It makes me sad, our tendency to try and remind the world that we are here, that we matter, that we have a voice. I can’t wait for the day when we’ll realise that our collective is bigger than the tip of the pyramid.

May those who passed away in the Riverside attach rest in eternal peace.

Twitter: @AbigailArunga