It’s been almost 9 months since Operation Linda Nchi began, when Kenya Defense Forces began an incursion into Somalia with the aim of defeating and depleting Al-Shabaab, a terror group that had repeatedly infringed on Kenya’s territorial integrity.
“Linda Nchi” a Swahili term for ‘protect the country’, apparently was coined and strategized months prior to its execution, according to the government spokesperson, Dr. Alfred Mutua. What was planned months earlier, was activated on the pretext, or rather reason, that two foreign aid workers were abducted by Al-Shabaab in Northern Kenya.
Never mind that for months prior to the kidnappings of foreigners within Kenyan territory, our borders were being flagrantly and arrogantly crossed by the same militia, killing Kenyan citizens and stealing livestock. Indeed, prior to the kidnappings that set off an international military response led by Kenya, the Transitional Somali Government, Ethiopia and as The Guardian reported, “several sources agreed, with input from western partners, including the US and to a lesser extent France"; several Kenyans had already died at the hands of Al-Shabaab.
For some reason, Kenya seems to have a national security policy that does not involve the national security or personal and human security of its Citizens. Perhaps the problem is bureaucratic; it takes forever for the wheels of Kenyan government office to record, register and react to terrorist acts on citizens, where as the response time for tourist deaths is fuelled by the diplomatic quagmire created when a foreign citizen from a western partner state is kidnapped. Being a foreigner in Kenya, from a European or Northern American state, is like lighting a fire under each government official’s bottom, wherever you go, you will get a response.
That certainly seems to be the attitude displayed by the National Security Forces. Since KDF’s incursion into Somalia, and their reported successes in different towns within Somalia, there has been a concurrent lack of success in protecting the lives of Kenyans at home. Indeed, the death toll from grenade and bomb launches, some so crude that the perpetrator apparently strolled away, is just alarming. We are not safe, as last week’s bomb explosion in the Central Business District of Nairobi showed us.
Here is the painful reality for the ordinary Kenyan. After witnessing the debacle of information dissemination from top leaders of the Ministry for Internal Security, that includes the Minister for Internal Security being reluctant to state what is going on, his police commissioner hazarding a ridiculous guess at electrical faulting and his police spokesperson finally, and hours later giving a more coherent statement, we can only conclude one thing: They were caught unawares. Like a deer in the headlights of a speeding 2 ton truck, their wide eyes and bureaucratic stammers left us all assured that soon and very soon, we shall have to face being attacked by grenade in yet another bar, shopping mall or bus. This was proven barely 48 hours later, by a bombing at a business in northern Kenya.
Now, how can a government, so strategic, so forewarned, so prepared as to launch “Linda Nchi”; a government so capable as to consistently gain ground, to consistently send home reports of valiant glories and of how the Somali people openly embrace them for their liberation, kindness and consideration; how can such a government so utterly fail to protect a miserable 264 square miles that consists of the Capital City, the Seat of Government, and the main economic hub for Kenya and possibly East Africa?
I can only postulate this hypotheses: that the Kenyans whose lives are currently at stake are not prominent enough to elicit an outraged and sustained response from the Civil Society, the Business Community and certainly have received no consideration whatsoever from their elected representatives, other than help with hospital and funeral expenses. The life of the Kenyan who goes shopping in Nairobi’s CBD, is THAT valueless.
Lest we get caught up in the political furor created by opportunistic leaders who are quick to issue emotional and non-factual statements that dare the “terrorists” to face Kenyans, whose ”spirits will not die.” Reality is, our spirits will die, alongside our blown up and burnt bodies and our destroyed livelihoods.
It’s our constitutional right to be protected. It’s our right to be safe, to count on the National Security Forces to protect vigilantly our lives and property. It is a complete disregard for the tenets of our constitution that causes this nations leaders, and security apparatus to take so lightly such a serious matter as the physical safety of its citizens. It is no excuse to point at a lack of resources, if money was found to enter Somalia, and money has been found to pay Members of parliament exorbitant salaries and remunerations then money can be found to purchase enough resources for the Internal security forces. It is an insult to our very identity as Kenyans for foreigners kidnapped (Just two of them, mark you) to be pursued so vigorously by KDF to the point of their release, only for our businesses in the heart of our nation’s capital to be blown to smithereens alongside ourselves. The explosion on Moi Avenue was reality, meeting the romanticized in Kenya’s National security policy.