By Nwachukwu Egbunike
Alas, terror seems to be taking a devious hold on Africa – from Baga to Garissa. The devious lunatics of gruesome hate are on rampage. The numbness of death has precipitated unlimited grief. Our common humanity is tested. But we shall not be cowed. We shall never submit to fear!
While we grief these deaths, yet we must humanize the dead. Their identity matters, they are no mere statistics. That’s why the naming ceremony in many parts of Africa is not mere trifle: it’s a rite. The precursor of the definitive passage, death.
The govt is frustrating efforts to account for the victims. But slowly & surely we will name them one by one. No more numbness, only pain.
— Ory Okolloh Mwangi (@kenyanpundit) April 8, 2015
Thus, after the terrorist massacre in Kenya’s Garissa University College, Kenya’s are united in grief. Bent but not broken they honour the dead with a vigil on April 7 and 8, 2015. A statement by the organizers reads:
…the tragedy of terrorist attacks that have plagued Kenya since the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi, and escalated sharply between 2012 and 2014. In the second deadliest terrorist attack on Kenyan soil, 147 innocent lives were lost in the senseless attack. The victims included students of Garissa University College, police officers who responded to the alarm, soldiers who were called in to battle and a night guard who was doing his duty. This is just a year after Kenyans were left reeling from the Westgate attack that took 67 innocent lives.
Speaking before the vigil, one of the organizers Kenyan activist Boniface Mwangi said, “We have a responsibility to honor the memories of our departed brothers and sisters. The 147 were brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, the greatest dishonor we can give them is to reduce them to a mere number, they are not just a number. This vigil is about all Kenyans observing their responsibility to one another We must not allow our selves to be numbed by this attacks so that we just move on like it’s the norm. As a nation we have been through trying times and today we forge together and not even a terrorist’s bullet will break us apart.”
As a show of support, Kenyan activist Ory Okolloh also known as @kenyanpundit on Twitter, coined the hashtag #147NotJustANumber in an effort to humanize victims of terror. The hashtag has gone viral worldwide, with support coming from online social media users across the world.