The Foreign Service Journal - July/August 2014 - page 44

Suddenly no one felt safe
anymore. Rich, poor, black, white:
when jihad came knocking,
everyone was a target.
physical feature: a mountain or a stream or a statue that you
see every day, and don’t look at twice because it is a fixture that
never changes. Even in an Africa that is finally rising, with a
middle class that is expanding, nothing is trickling down to those
who have made the unfortunate mistake of being born poor.
This, it would seem, is a tragedy much vaster and deeper than
Westgate. Yet it isn’t treated with the urgency of a national disas-
ter. Without downplaying the loss of life, I would suggest that the
place where Kenyans responded with charity and togetherness is
where we ought to go to bridge the gap between east and west of
Moi Avenue.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t look to be happening any time
soon. Recent times have seen more attacks occur in churches
and, even more often, against public service vehicles. With
increasing public pressure and tourist numbers dwindling due to
perennial travel advisories, the government’s remedy has been
a police campaign based on racial profiling of Somalis, both
Kenyan and refugee. A worrying trend has also been the assas-
sination of radical Muslim clerics in the coastal city of Mombasa,
which many claim to be the work of either the police or Kenyan
intelligence agencies.
A massive investment in the security apparatus has been
promised as Kenyans desperately grasp at any sense of normalcy
amid all the uncertainty. On the surface, though, nothing seems
to have changed since the Westgate attack, and one is left with
the sense that there is nothing to stop the next one. Meanwhile,
the country continues to endure all the old problems that
plagued it before the terror. The only difference is that words like
“improvised explosive device” have been added to our vocabu-
Terrorism is not the biggest threat facing Kenya. Perhaps the
bigger problem is the complacency of a system that is now fail-
ing to combat it. Mobilizing the “Kenyan Spirit” to address terror
won’t necessarily head off another Westgate. It may, however, be
the wellspring that sets us on the path to positive change.
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