The Dusit terror attack that took place on January 15th 2018 left 21 people dead, several others injured and at least 700 rescued. This was another trying moment for Kenya, as people with bated breath hoped for the best, especially those with loved ones caught in the midst of the attack. But despite this glooming incidence, there are many lessons that Kenya and the rest of Africa can learn from this attack.
One is the need to stop the religious and ethnic profiling. Many are the times that a terrorist was known to come from a certain religious or ethnic group. However, if recent news is anything to go by, we can all clearly see that things have changed, hence the need to stop with the religious and ethnic profiling of individual hailing from communities deemed terror dominated. The traditional belief that all terrorists come from the Islamic community needs to stop as it does not hold any water. We had Gichunge (Kikuyu ethnicity), his bride Kemunto (Kisii ethnicity), and Eric Kinyanjui (Kikuyu ethnicity), who certainly did not come from the Arabic ethnic group.
Geographic profiling is also another highlighted area that came out strongly during the attack. Who would have thought that two of the terrorists -Kinyanjui and Farouk- hailed from Ngecha village in Limuru and Majengo slums in Nyeri respectively? When someone mentions the word terrorism in Kenya, the first regions that come to most people’s minds are Mandera, Isiolo, Isili, South B or C, where the Islamic community is the dominant resident. The recent attack proved Kenya and the rest of the Africa wrong.
We must give credit to our security agencies, especially the General Service Unit (GSU), for the splendid job they did during the rescue operations. This time round, the GSU and other uniformed forces were more responsive and ensured a round-the-clock rescue operation. Cooperation was also witnessed amongst the different forces compared to previous terror attacks. There was seamless coordination this time round, which saw at least 700 people rescued. Kenyans and the entire globe came out in their praises for the security officers. International media houses such as CNN, BBC and Al-Jazeera were also not left behind in commending the good job done.
The spirit of togetherness that was experienced is another area of benchmarking for other nations. People from different backgrounds came out in their numbers in solidarity for the victims and their loved ones. Individuals who are private arm holders came full circle to support in the rescue operation. The Red Cross was also not left behind as they offered the much-needed medical support to victims and family members overwhelmed with grief and emotions. Counselling was also offered to those who needed it the most. Terrorism is a traumatic process, and victims both directly and indirectly affected could do with a bit of counselling to help deal with post-traumatic stress. In the spirit of togetherness, we should not forget those Kenyans who volunteered to feed the security rescue team by supplying them with food and water during the rescue operations.
Out of this experience, one thing that stood out is that Kenya is a resilient nation. Despite the different ethnic and religious backgrounds, we are one. From all corners, Kenyans came out in solidarity to support their own. Lastly, terrorism has no tribe, religion, ethnicity and certainly does not have a face. It could be a neighbor next door, the most devoted member of our local church, a close family member or even a childhood friend. This calls for all Kenyans and Africans at large to be vigilant at all times and to never let our guard down. You never know when the enemy is going to attack!
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