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January 21, 2019

In Fighting Terrorism, We Must Not Lose Our Own Freedoms

Some recovered grenades, round of ammunitions and other dangerous weapons. Photo/Elkana Jacob
Some recovered grenades, round of ammunitions and other dangerous weapons. Photo/Elkana Jacob

After the attack on the twin trade towers in New York, the state of world freedom and especially in airports completely changed. All the annoying searches we go through in airports, company and government buildings were never there. They are all products of the war against terrorism.

 As we up the ante in our struggle against terrorism after the attack on the Westgate shopping mall, organising the entire population into ten-home units has been ordered to protect the country against infiltration by terrorists. The ten – home system was organised in socialist countries like Tanzania where it was used to regiment society into ideologically-secure units whose leaders would spy upon their members to eradicate dissent and ensure total support for government.

 The history of the former Soviet Union knows the practices and methods of regimenting society into administrative and ideological units were not to enhance freedom but perpetrate ideological and political terror whose comb web left millions traumatised and ruined completely.

 In fighting terrorism, people must combat terror not freedom. Moreover we fight terrorism to enhance not make freedom less. In this fight the evidence of our success is not less but more freedom. In the war against terrorism, we lose when we record less freedom or resort to more draconian means to protect ourselves, measures which we must interrogate and change. The fight against terrorism must increase not reduce our freedom.

 In the USA, a feared practice used to combat communism was Marctheism which terrorised anyone who remotely subscribed to this ideology or did not condemn it publicly. Suffice to say many people who fell into the comb web of Marctheism were totally ruined and destroyed politically, economically and ideologically.

 Before independence, the struggle for uhuru was terrorism and number one terrorist was freedom fighter Jomo Kenyatta. To contain terrorism of independence, thousands of Kenyan patriots were jailed and detained without charge or trial together with their leaders.

 In Kenya, while we did not use the ten-home units to regiment Kenyans into blind support for the Kanu one party dictatorship, the government was informed on what everybody thought and said by a law which demanded that no more than five people could meet for any gathering including family parties without the presence of a mole, a chief or political police.

 When resistance against dictatorship increased, the government responded with detentions without trial of all those who demanded liberty and justice.

 While people must not forget their history or they will risk repeating it, I consider it a mistake to try and resolve the current problem of terrorism using a tyrannical nyumba kumi or ten-home system that failed to resolve conflicts and problems of their day. But Kenyans have a propensity to forget and repeat their history. I therefore guess, if the war against terrorism does not end soon, most likely, we will resort to the entire gamut of policies that failed in the past in the mistaken belief that they will succeed this time round.

 The cure for terrorism is not counter-terrorism. Nor is the cure of external terrorism internal terrorism. If you had asked Jesus Christ or Mahatma Gandhi what the cure of terrorism is, they would have unequivocally answered it was love, non-violence and not war.

  But our leaders don’t believe in Jesus’ politics of non-violence. They believe if the ten-home system does not eradicate terrorism, it should be reinforced with ethnic and state dictatorships that shall be combined to ensure everybody toes the line or they embrace terrorism, its ideology or religion.

 In the war between terrorism and freedom, terrorism will be overcome not with guns and violence but when the ideology of freedom is stronger than the ideology of terrorism. If you ask why capitalism won over communism in the cold war, many will say, its ideology was more convincing. Equally Inquisition of heresy lost the war to the freedom of religion because the ideology of change was stronger than the ideology of conservatism.

 To give teeth to dictatorship, Kenya government might also choose to fight terrorism with detention without charge or trial. After all, the monster is already in our constitution waiting to be deployed on a wide scale.

 Kenya might even resort to the law where no more than five persons can meet without the knowledge of authorities. We suffered the terror of this law under Kanu and we can suffer again. We only need to lose our vigilance as we already have.

 But all these measures will fail because they will not be addressing the root cause of terrorism or its most effective solution. To eradicate terrorism, the ideology of freedom must be stronger.

 To demobilise terrorism entire nation and all our security forces must cleanse themselves of corruption that could open the doors for terrorists to infiltrate and undermine us from within.

 To eradicate terrorism we must ensure our security agencies and their officers do not sleep on the job and when a job is badly done, whoever is responsible must lose his job and go home.

 Finally, we shall overcome terrorism only when we shall fight the monster for our own reasons and not someone else’s that might dictate fighting forever or tene na tene.

 Our independence in the war against terrorism should start with our rejection of the nyumba kumi system. It may have worked in bolstering dictatorship. It will not work in eradicating terrorism of the same genre.

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