If there is one lesson to learn from the Terror attack in Kenya’s Capital Nairobi, it is that Kenya is still “Native”. Native, not only in its approach to modernism, but native in its understanding of the dangers posed by our enemies. A popular philosophy known among Kenyans is “sahau” and forget.
Driving down the road from Kijabe to Nairobi, I passed through Westland. While it is true that the memory of the tragic and barbaric killing of innocent people is still burning in the minds of Kenyan’s, it can be said that Kenyans will move on. Kenyans do not have the idea of chewing over that that has already been swallowed. The idea that they should mow over the tragedy is not part of their philosophy.
Kenyans have many problems. The common man suffers from so many issues that it is impossible to destroy him. Kenyans suffer from joblessness, drought, floods, insecurity, and transportation problems. The common man strives to pay for school fees; purchase food where VAT has sky rocketed. They have to pay for the matatu and their living conditions are pathetic. Then they have to deal with political bickering, mindless calls for referendums and so on and so forth.
In the midst of this, their leaders still take them through a merry go round of nonsensical investments. As I arrived in Nairobi on the round about of Uhuru Highway and Kenyatta Avenue, I saw that the city has installed lights which have count down display to show the motorists and pedestrians how much time they have before red or green. The problem was, the police were manning the round about and while it was red and counting, we were allowed to drive through in absolute disregard of the gadget mounted in front of us!
Mutula Kilonzo died in mysterious circumstances. His case is still under investigation. Kenyans have moved on into the state of Sahau and forget. It is not that Kenyans do not care; rather, it is that they have so many issues and it is better not to remember. You see, what is within definition is not true within Kenyan practicality. It is true green means go and red means stop, but these are just relative terms.
The Westgate Mall is a place I have gone while in Kenya. In fact I arrived in Kenya a day before the terror attack. If not for jet lag, I would have gone there to have coffee. I prefer the village market mall better or ABC Place though. You see, Westgate, though very glamorous had only two entries. One via the parking garage and the other one is a main entrance from a very narrow and congested path. One time while in a movie theater inside the mall, I wondered what would happen if there was a fire. The Kenyans with me did not care. Fire? What fire? They asked!
How a person can be allowed to construct such a massive human prison without proper fire escape clearly marked signs for exit is beyond my rational American educated mind. However, I am as native as my people and once in Kenya, green ceases to be green and red is not red.
I am not blaming Westgate for the terror attack. Terrorism is a demonic based philosophy and I am glad the terrorist will face divine Judgment in the lake of fire! What I am saying is that Kenyans live in contradictions and until our memory is replaced and we become practical in our response to reality, we will forget this storm too. Not that it is wrong to forget, it is stupid to allow this event to not awake us to reality and become aware of red as red and green as green; To assign actual meanings to these words; To not open Westgate back until there is clearly market signs of exit, and to demand legally that there be more exits. Crying for our foreign brothers and sisters is legitimate, but not doing everything to protect the living is a case of mental absurdity. But in Kenya, that concept itself is a contradiction!
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD) Educator, Syndicated Writer, broadcaster, and philanthropist. IMANISHA, TTP-International Listen to tnk on 91.1. 5pm EST. Nairobi to Arusha.