I was in my campus hostel, doing what we campus students do best; surfing the internet, religiously reading memes and laughing out loud on that fateful Tuesday afternoon.
The internet seemed so animated and laugh-exuding which made me to be glued to my phone. At around 4pm some gruesome images were sent to the class WhatsApp group.
The photos were revealing ugly scenes happening at the Dusit D2 hotel, the caption of the photos was ‘terror again’ and an emoji of some face crying profusely. I panicked and quickly rushed to Google to check if that was true and sadly, it was.
I once read somewhere that women are attracted to bad news and that they have this knack of digging deeper into the bad news. And over the years I have proven true the statement that I had initially disagreed with.
I read everything on the internet and the press concerning that attack and I was particularly saddened when the Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility, I had naively thought that Kenya was past that.
Over a little more than a week of reading and watching videos of the terror attack, I was more exasperated than sad. I was provoked by the lack of vigilance among Kenyans.
Testimonies about the terrorists
I read about Gichunge’s neighbors’ giving testimonies about him saying he was friendly and calm but little did they know that they were living next to world’s most dangerous killer. I also read interviews about how the business people around Riverside Drive had seen the attackers a number of times before the day of attack.
I watched many more interviews about people who knew the attackers before the fateful Tuesday. I kept asking myself, ‘what if the neighbor’s had been more keen about Ali Salim Gichunge? What if the family of the Al-Shabaab bride had taken note of their daughter’s silence and tried to investigate and/or report to the police?’
I keep thinking what if as a nation we could be more vigilant and be a little bit nosy with our neighbors, friends, family, co-workers and everyone else we interact with? We have faced more terror attacks in this decade and these should be lessons to us.
I remember the Garissa University terror attack in 2015 and as I was reading more about it, I vowed to myself to be more cautious since I was to join campus September that year.
We ought to remember that anybody regardless of their relation to us can hurt us pretty bad. Until we learn and accept this tough reality we will continue drowning in the ocean of naivety.
Many are the times I’ve read about husbands killing their wives and vice versa; fathers defiling their daughters; and sisters killing their brothers. This has taught me to always be on the lookout and more vigilant since anybody can hurt me. It is the sad reality.
We should quit this mentality that everyone is good and harmless. It does not work like that. Know your brother, know your sister, try peek into your neighbor’s house. If you smell something odd in the air do not hesitate to call the authorities, you can actually do it anonymously. You could be saving an entire nation.