Rwanda and the world stand by Kenya in the dark moment when terrorists have stricken again, killed and maimed her citizens and guests whose mistake was going shopping and having coffee at the Westgate Shopping Mall in the Westlands suburb in Nairobi.
In these gruesome circumstances perhaps more than any other time, the human mind seeks answers to such horrible and despicable acts. It is a very painful process.
What would make normal, indeed prayerful human beings get together and proceed to kill and maim fellow human beings with whom they do not even know, leave alone have any quarrel with? What is in the mind of a terrorist?
Al Shabaab spokesman explained that the hostage situation as well as the killing and maiming is because Kenyan troops have ‘invaded and occupied’ Somalia.
For those of us who have lived through this and know, it is as hollow as it gets.
However, it seems that a lot of people some ‘rational’ armchair analysts in social media and other places who have ‘balanced perspectives’ have bought into this.
Shocking but true. But attacks on Kenya did not begin only after the Kenya Defence Forces’ incursion into Somalia to pursue the Al Shabaab.
On 7th August 1998, I had an appointment at the Co-operative Bank House. The building is situated next the former American Embassy. Some ‘silly’ lecturer chose to give an impromptu exam at the same time. A bomb went off there at the time of my appointment.
That ‘silly’ lecturer saved my life. This was the arrival of Osama Bin Laden.
Three to four years later, there was another attack at Paradise resort in Kikambala, in Mombasa. Since then there have been on and off attacks in various parts of Kenya.
What all these had in common is the fact that the organisers were based in Somalia, a stateless nation then. Incidents of gun-based violence also increased dramatically since 1991 when Siad Barre was overthrown.
You guessed it; the guns came from Somalia with which Kenya shares a long porous border. Kenyan forces had by then not gone into Somalia. So why was Kenya attacked? Besides, why would a motley of terrorists including Britons, Americans and other non-Somalis be Somalia’s liberators? Who invited them and what is in it for them?
This is where the second line comes in. That Kenya is ‘too close’ to the terrorists’ enemies. America, Western Europe and Israel always come up. It is thus dubbed the agent of crusaders and the imperialists.
So it is okey to attack Kenya based on the company it keeps.
Kenya would be a very hopeless nation if somebody had to choose friends for it. Just as Kenya chooses no friends for other countries, so should nobody think of doing the same to this fiercely independent nation.
The independence and courage of Kenya is clear in her people’s response to the terrorism. They have responded with unity, dignity and compassion. It is said that terrorism is meant to make the targets cower with fear. If that’s the case, then Al Shabaab failed big time.
The solidarity displayed in the Kenyan spirit informs them that they could never succeed there. It is what Rwandans, who stood and remain standing with Kenyans, call this agaciro (dignity). We rate it very highly here.
The Kenyan response to terrorism exposed terrorism for what it is; misguided and warped criminal thinking that has to be disguised in religion or equally warped ideology. Criminals must face justice, be they Al Shabaab or FDLR.
A four year old victim reportedly looked at a gun totting terrorist in the eye and told him, ‘you are a very very bad person” The terrorist who shot his mom in the leg backed off. We wish the mother this brave young fellow a quick recovery.
The world must face terrorism in the eye like the little boy did and bring them to justice. This is the Kenyan spirit we must have. On the face of this terrorism, we are all Kenyans.
The writer is an entrepreneurship development consultant based in Kigali.