ON FRIDAY at around 3 am in the night as I was I staring at my Twitter feed and struggling to break through my writer’s block, I saw a shocking tweet from @pauludoto that read “Rhino shot dead in Lake Nakuru tonight at 10pm. Horns intact. Hunt for poachers who escaped underway.”
My shock is not because I care so much about rhinos but the rate at which wildlife, especially in Kenya and Tanzania, is threatened. The poachers seem to be on a roll lately with so many deaths especially of elephants and rhinos for their prized horns. Ivory sells like a drug while the rhino horns are said to be aphrodisiacs and hence the high demand. There is also fear that profits from this trade could be funding terrorism in the region.
Just a few days back, there was a picture going round of an elephant that had just been killed while a game ranger appeared on Kenyan TV sobbing after learning that a pregnant elephant had been killed by poachers. Tourism being a key foreign exchange earner for East Africa means that we should all be concerned about this worrying situation.
President Uhuru Kenyatta travelled to Arusha where he paid the EAC secretariat a visit (the first sitting president in the region to do so). While there he talked about the illegal trade in wildlife products and called on all those concerned with security to cooperate and bring a stop to this madness.
What is even more disturbing is that it is not easy to worry about the wildlife when the lives of human beings are also threatened with the terrorism. I am actually tempted to think that right now Nigeria and Kenya are making more news headlines related to terrorism than anything else which is sad.
The government of Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto fondly known as ‘Uhuruto,’ has clocked a year in office but it has been a very rough ride for the two as far as security is concerned. Before they could settle down to work, the main airport in the region was engulfed in flames and soon after came the Westgate horror.
The Westgate terror attack was so gruesome that while in Kampala, with friends at a club called Iguana, our discussion soon turned to whether the new Acacia Mall in Kamwokya was ready to deal with a Westgate situation. This kind of fear is now ingrained in our minds that walking into a big mall often gets you thinking about escape routes instead of whether you have enough money with you.
The situation in Mombasa has continued to be worrying with further radicalisation of Muslim youth and the recent attack on a church where hooded gunmen walked into a church service and sprayed the congregation with bullets. This story gets to your heart when you learn about a little boy named Satrin Osinya who by the time of writing this still had a bullet lodged in his head.
The bullet in little Osinya’s head is said to be the same one that killed her mother who together with other family members had simply gone to pray when the gunmen stormed their church. The thought that a 10 month old boy has to move around with the bullet that killed his mother in his head is nothing but heartbreaking.
All in all, the Uhuru government has to face this terrorism issue head on. Other regional governments should also cooperate because we have all been affected and are all threatened by the same bad people. Security for both human beings and wildlife is very crucial.
My heart also goes out to the relatives of those who lost lives in the boat accident on Lake Albert in Western Uganda. Over 100 lives were lost in the accident that highlights the adage of bad things getting worse. These were refugees hoping for a better life only to end up dying in such large numbers.
I once wrote about how our water transport vessels only make news when passengers drown. In short, both the west and eastern corners of the EAC have been sources of terrible news in the recent days. I really look forward to better days.