Terrorists maimed Kenyans but heroes emergedThe recent terror attack in Nairobi’s Westgate Mall, in which over 70 people died and more than a hundred injured, is still fresh in our thoughts. Yes, agonizingly vivid. May the bereaved families find immediate solace at this time of grief.
Without a shred of doubt, the Westgate attack was one of the most brutal acts against a population. How could they kill children, pregnant women and guiltless lives? Kenyans hearts are chock-full of many questions and our thoughts laced with sundry reflections to ponder.
But there is a counter story. While watching the happenings at Westgate Mall miles away in Korea, I was supposed to feel stranded, helpless and wasted.
Allow me to confess that yes, I felt that way at some point. You see, I am a trained first-aider and a certified fire rescuer, but all these vestments were comfortably lazed within me from miles away. I would have been angrier were it not for the inspiration of my fellow countrymen and women. Kenyans and foreigners alike defied their politics, religions, social classes and race barricades to offer a hand for the love of life. Now that is heroism.
Again, the reports that Kenya Red Cross had to turn people away who had come to donate blood were even more moving. I’m talking of the people who volunteered to donate blood in large numbers and overwhelmed the capacity of the paramedics. Many others donated food, water and other basic items. By the fourth day, 55 million shillings ($635,992) had been raised for the Kenya Red Cross and other rescue agencies. Again, that is heroism.
And now, as the dust falls back to the ground, we remain with deed questions. Of course. But this is not only for Kenya as a country, but as a people of the world. If the list of attackers released by Al-shabab is to be believed then this is a global issue. The claim that a multinational team made up of citizens of America, Canada, Finland, Syria, Somalia and Kenya is worrying. We patiently wait for investigations and confirmations on this.
Meanwhile, as we reflect and seek the necessary answers, we mourn in pain not because we have accepted defeat but for the simple reason that we are human. We feel the pain when our children’s dreams are nipped away. That is why we retreat to the places where our hearts find solace when shaken. To us, this is still heroism.
Miles away, Kenyans in Korea also stand with their brothers and sisters back home. On Saturday this weekend Kenyans and friends of Kenya will gather for a prayer vigil at Bethany Methodist in Seoul to strengthen one another. They want to send a message to the Westgate Mall attackers that they are resilient, and deliberately so.
Well, from their hometowns the atrocious attackers came to maim in the name of revenge and misplaced religious claim, but the world has stood against them.
Kenyans are unyielding. The true heroes have emerged.
By Benson Kamary, A professor at Kosin University, Busan, and a former Secretary General of Kenya Community in Korea.