The search for a teenage terror suspect -accused, along with his brother, of bombing the Boston Marathon two days ago, killing 3 people and injuring nearly 150 more- yesterday shut down the entire city. Think about that. 650,000 people living in the birthplace of the American Revolution, which gave the world its most constitutionally shackled government, have been terrorized into staying at home by the hunt for a 19-year old student.
Closer to home, the Uhuru government has finally broken its two day silence on the terror attacks in Garissa which killed 10. It was a tragedy which President Uhuru Kenyatta felt did not merit a mention in any of the speeches he has given since, let alone a special media address or visit to the town ala his counterpart in the White House.
Now he has apparently released a statement expressing "his concern over the continued killing of civilians and security personnel" and ordering security chiefs to head to Garissa on Saturday. I am not expecting to hear of a lock down there. Given the history of government action in that part of Kenya, it would probably create more fear than the original attack.
But a lock down of sorts has already been underway across most of the country for some time. It is not a physical one though, which is easier to identify. One can see the pictures of empty freeways and train stations in Boston and immediately know that something is amiss.
Not here. It is, however, not dissimilar to what is happening in Boston. A deep-seated terror has overtaken the land and the authorities, with the help of a compliant media, have instituted a shut down. Only this is a mental and spiritual one. A desertion of the streets of thought and conscience. A confinement in the tribal homes. The 2008 post-election violence has become today’s bogeyman.
How else is one to understand the silence that has greeted the Supreme Court’s release of it judgement? One would have expected our “vibrant” media to be all over it, taking it apart, explaining the precedents it sets or overturns. Where are the eloquent lawyers to whose endless analysis and opinions we were subjected in lieu of actual news during the election? Why, for that matter, did the Chief Justice not read his judgement in open court?
Why, a month after the election, and with the Supreme Court asking for a corruption investigation into the procurement of technology for the election, haven't we heard of the police or the EACC launching investigations? Where are the demands for an audit of the way the entire election was handled, for reforming the Commission and its way of doing business?
How can the man who masterminded one of Kenya’s biggest financial scams through which the country lost up to Sh100 billion walk free after all those years of tribunals and trials? Was the Goldenberg scandal, which bought Kamlesh Pattni national infamy, just a figment of our imagination? For that matter, why was Brother Paul even allowed to run for elected office?
I guess a country that has just chosen a guy accused of bankrolling militias to kill innocent Kenyans to be its President would not be expected to be squeamish about the face of the guy accused of almost bankrupting the country twenty years ago gracing an election billboard. But what should we make of the fact that the Nation filed the story of Pattni’s acquittal under the title “Politics”?
This is all about fear. Fear of one another. Fear of the uncertain. Fear of looking foolish.
We need to leave our comfort zones and venture outside. We need to remember the taste of freedom and the scent of justice. We need to start thinking and feeling again. It is time to show some outrage. To speak up. Let’s not move on. Let’s go back and make it better.