“Everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.” That is a line in one of the songs by Peter Tosh. Death is simply that thing we literally spend our lives trying to avoid, unless of course you have little value for life in the first place.
Kenya dominated the news with the two terror attacks in Mombasa that were quickly followed by an almost similar attack on two buses in Nairobi with both attacks claiming lives and condemning scores to hospital beds and agony.
The attacks got many questioning the solutions to this evil called terrorism. Some called for Kenya to pull out of Somalia while others wanted security chiefs to be fired for not doing their job. The government on its part reminded everyone that the fight had to be collective so the public had a role to play too – being vigilant and cooperative.
In fact some bus operators were arrested and charged with not having frisked passengers something that Kenya’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Keriako Tobiko had dismissed by the time of writing this. The anger on all sides is understandable.
The attacks have dealt a huge blow to the tourism industry in Mombasa and Kenya in general. However this situation is not limited to Kenya alone. As East Africans we can all relate to this evil and can understand what it means.
In fact soon after the attacks in Mombasa and Nairobi, the US Embassy in Kampala is already warning of an attack this month or June allegedly on a place of worship. Let us not forget that in June Uganda celebrates Martyrs' Day, an event known to pull huge crowds of faithfuls from all over the world.
My concern though is that each time we are faced with a terror attack we are called upon to play our part and remain vigilant, cooperate with security officials and report anything or anyone that looks suspicions. What we forget though is that such a measure is only effective if people really value their lives and the lives others. Truth be told, many people live a laissez faire life where they assume God is in control and that is enough.
For example, many public places have security check points at the entrances but these are more of ritual places. Whether the machine beeps or not, people are let in without much of a bother. In many shopping malls the guards only use the checking to try and be nice as they ask you for a ‘soda’ or chai. I have personally experienced this twice while driving into a one of the malls in Kampala.
Buses often check people before they board especially for the long trips across borders but the same buses will pick passengers along the road without checking them. This reminds me of a bus from Nairobi that was heading to Kampala whose passengers were robbed at gun point around Molo when thugs boarded along the way with AK 47 guns.
Abandoned bags in public places are often just ignored by people. One Kenyan journalist, Denis Okari even did a mini-documentary on this clearly showing that he could leave a bag even close to a police station for three hours without anyone bothering to notice. Once such a bag is identified, don’t be surprised when a crowd gathers around it.
Our people are still not well versed with the situational awareness that dictates stepping away from a dangerous site. Instead they seem to be drawn to one. The best example is what always happens when a fuel tanker is involved in an accident. People head towards it to fetch the spilling fuel something that often results in them being burnt beyond recognition.
The same people we are asking to be vigilant in order to protect their lives are the same ones who drink and drive, who tweet other drunkards to warn them about police check points to avoid after a drink. These are the same people who sit on an over speeding boda boda in Kampala without a helmet and not bother to tell the rider to slow down.
To further prove my point, over 80 people died the other day in Kenya after consuming illicit alcohol that is said to have contained 70 – 100 per cent methanol! Yes we should be vigilant and cooperative but ultimately the value for life starts with you and is what counts.