When I first heard the loud bangs from my meeting room on the 5th floor of the building next to 14 Riverside Drive, I thought what a lot of Nairobians do when they hear a loud bang - ‘another tyre burst’ or ‘perhaps a lorry crashing into another’.
Then, I heard the loud and persistent rat-a-tat of gunfire.
At this point, a sense of curiosity came and again, I did what I shouldn’t do – I rushed out to the terrace to see what was going on – only to witness a terrorist attack first hand (again!).
When one sees a mass of humanity running wildly from something in utter panic, confusion and trepidation – one immediately gets emotions of helplessness and sympathy.
My fears had been confirmed – something bad, really bad had happened (again!) in Nairobi, Kenya, Africa and the World. The senseless animals called terrorists had struck again.
14 Riverside Drive was such a serene estate in Nairobi - I had said to many people and clients that it was probably the best office park in Nairobi – it had character.
I loved going to 14 Riverside Drive for meetings, coffee, lunch… Now, that serenity had been shattered.
After our own somewhat chaotic exit from the office, I got home to watch the events unfold on TV, and to explain to my 9 and 11-year-old children what was going on (sadly, they have to know the truth of the evil world we live in).
And then, my emotions moved from sympathy for those who suffered, helplessness on my part, and anger – not only towards the animals who directly committed the heinous acts that day, but also (and more so) towards the animals who must have planned, orchestrated and financed the attacks.
I keep questioning why our beautiful Kenya seems to suffer more than a fair share of such attacks. I have an answer – a simple answer – the cancer of our society and of our country – corruption.
Today, on the second day after the attacks, my anger has turned toward those who are and were corrupt in our country.
I have lived through all of our post-independence governments and sadly, through most of our corruption scandals – the All Africa Games, Goldenberg, NSSF, NYS, Anglo Leasing, land grabs, passport scams, security scams, procurement scams, police harassment, food importation scams, chicken gate...the list is endless.
So, how did the terrorists get their arms from Somalia to Nairobi? I suspect through some corrupt official (s) on the border who turned a blind eye for a few bob?
Why did they turn a blind eye? Because they can, due to the lack of proper border control systems and equipment, which we could easily have bought and operated if the scammer who was supposed to supply them, had supplied them (or if another scam didn’t gobble up the money which could have been used to buy the stuff!).
Perhaps the terrorists got fake identity cards or passports to cross the border. Anglo-fleecers allegedly were to supply us with a passport systems and CID forensic equipment system and other great things decades ago.
If they had done what they were paid to do, then perhaps by now our intelligence, immigration and passport issuance systems would be so advanced that it would be impossible for criminals to get through our borders!
Why did our intelligence services not detect the threat for thus incident? If they had the technology, manpower, training and equipment to do a better job, they could have detected the threat, but of course the tenderpreneur scammed Kenyans of the money that could have been used for all this.
Our emergency services did a great job in responding to the attacks, and the security services were just fantastic and probably saved hundreds of lives this time round.
But could they have done better if they were better equipped? (Again, if the resources to buy better equipment were not stolen by the corrupt giver and taker who probably were watching the attacks from the comfort of their living their rooms).
I could go on and on at the lost opportunities for investment in our national security and defence because of the billions that have been stolen through corruption.
The dire consequences have been the loss of thousands of lives, the destruction of even more families, the orphaning of beautiful children who were full of hope and who would probably have added great value to the country, the destruction of billions of shillings of property, the knock on effect on tourism, on business confidence and on our already fragile economy.
So – Mr or Ms Corrupt, Mr or Ms Tenderpreneuer, Mr or Ms Dishonest Government Official, Mr or Ms Launderer – whether you are the giver or the taker – as you think of your next scam, as you stash your cash, as you ride in first class, as you drink and eat like a glutton, as you bully those around you, as you pretend you are above the law – think!
Think that the next victim of your greed and dishonesty and theft could be your sister, your brother, your child, your mother, your daughter, your friend or dare I say - yourself!
Your actions are no less evil than those of the attackers who have unleashed terror on our country so many times. You are the terrorist!
You have a chance to stop – to avoid death and destruction. How much more terror do you want to unleash through your corruption.
Stop – for the sake of our children! Stop - for the sake of our parents! Stop - for the sake of the desperately poor! Stop - for the sake of our beloved, beloved Kenya – STOP! Stop stealing, stop bribing, stop corrupting, stop laundering!
Turn a new leaf, build our beautiful Kenya, teach our children that there is hope, show the animals who kill innocent people that they can’t and they won’t be helped by corruption.
Please, I beg you, Stop!
Mr Shah is a corporate lawyer in Kenya.