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February 18, 2019

To the ones #147 left behind - Rise up

loss: A view of crosses dressed with Kenyan flags and flowers to honour the victims of Garissa attack during a Vigil at Uhuru Park
loss: A view of crosses dressed with Kenyan flags and flowers to honour the victims of Garissa attack during a Vigil at Uhuru Park

I was invincible, immortal, unbeatable, indestructible in my campus days.

That’s what being in your early 20s is all about. You argue madly, love deeply, you eat life with a spade, to hell with the big spoon. Everything is magnified. The good times are very good and the bad times are dreadful.

You want to take on the world and sometimes you do – the dare is too big and your whole life lies ahead of you in a wondrous rainbow of hope and life and opportunities and adventures and stories yet untold. I can still say it took me another decade after graduating to love, live, learn, soar, aspire, do, dream like I did as an undergrad.

I was that “controversial” 24-year-old chick on radio. I was fearless, wide-eyed, blazing, hungry, eager. I was Adelle and Lynda and Chipukeezy all in one – on steroids. I didn’t drink in those years either, so imagine my clarity of thought, my drive and my sheer energy. I am who I am today because of my blazing 20s.

Those amazing years in college, in university are awesome. Nobody deserves to die at that point in life – heck, no-one is supposed to die. How? Why? I’m still numb from the killing of the students in Garissa. I spent time at Chiromo in the past week volunteering with The Kenya Red Cross so that my mind that seems frozen in the sheer surreal nature of what happened, can finally admit this is real. Not yet. I haven’t cried yet. It will come.

However, as I make my personal journey to the unfreezing of my mind, I want to turn my heart, thoughts and prayers to the students who survived. The students from Garrisa university who today live with the reality of that day and the relief, mixed with grief, mixed with anger, mixed with pain, mixed with fear and also peculiar nagging of “why them, why me.” The students across every university in Kenya who tell stories of what they heard about that day with fear, in hushed tones. My thoughts today are with the ones #147 left behind.

To you I say, if you do nothing else for the rest of your lives, do not let the death of #147 be in-vain. Let your life and their lives count for something.

As emerging adults, your college years are all about discovering yourselves and your purpose in this world. In-view of that happened in Garissa, I need you to start thinking and planning for your greater mission in life, what you believe life is, how significant your existence is and what your duties to others is. Rise Up.

Don’t waste time your time joining the bandwagon of complaints and whining. That’s from my generation. We got time-barred when a 50-year-old went to Statehouse. We are the former future leaders of tomorrow – our time is up. However, your time is now and tomorrow and the future. Don’t waste time yelling at Uhuru – thinking deeply about the leader you will be. The time isn’t very far off when you will make the decisions that matter at every level in this nation. Who will you be. Rise Up

Stop demanding answers – live in the questions. How? Why? What? Who? That’s where you will find healing. That’s where you will find clarity and purpose and how you will avert the next attack whether the terrorists are domestic or international. As an emerging adult, you live for a greater unknown that is your future.

You are blessed because you still understand the struggle of a looming “what’s next?” in your lives. Live in the questions – have conversations that allow you to arrive at solutions and answers and never at finger pointing. Finger pointing is for losers. Leaders get on with it. Rise Up.


To the ones #147 left behind. Live in the moment.

I know I don’t have to belabour this point. I have seen the text messages, I have heard the calls. No one says “I love you” more than a starry-eyed twenty-something year-old. Live in the moment. Don’t forget to tell those who matter to you that they matter. Don’t forget to touch a life, a heart. Don’t forget to validate each other. Sometimes you are mean, and you seek to tear each-other apart. Stop it. Right. Now. Honour those who are gone, honour the life you have today and Live in the moment, in the now, the only dimension you have any control over. In the midst of advancing gun-fire she took time to sent a text to the one she loved to say if I never see you again – know that I love you. In the midst of advancing gunfire, he called his mum, called his sister, she called home. Live in the now. Tell those who matter they matter, everything and anything that doesn’t edify – don’t waste a precious minute on it. Why should you – can you hear the gun-fire? Can you hear the voices getting closer? Then do what matters.


To the ones #147 left behind - Go for the risk, feel the rush, go for the burn.

For the love of heaven live. Some opportunities are genuinely what they call “once in a lifetime.” Some friendships, opportunities, moments, events, tragedies will change our lives. Some risks will be worth the sacrifice. I beg you – live. My generation is constantly being asked, “what will they say at your funeral.’ That’s not something we ever asked twenty-something year olds to consider. But today, I can put that challenge in front of you because the reality of it was put before you. Yes you are confused and hurt and angry and sad right now – but then, you must get up soon and when you do, purpose yourself to live. Make an impact. Rise up.


To the ones #147 left behind - Yes, I know you are still in mourning and we mourn with you.

However, I must ask that you dry your tears and once in awhile, look to the sky on a dark night when the memory haunts you. Look at the stars and consider that perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in sky where the love of our lost ones shine down to let us know they are happy. That twinkle you see – it’s a smile, a wink – saying it’s okay. It is well. It is well.

I must conclude this column. My editor needs it and finally my tears are flowing freely – my mind has unfrozen, my throat has a lump so big I can’t breathe and my heart rate is medically unsafe:


To the ones #147 left behind: You see struggle, pain, it has no colour, no creed, no tribe.

In the midst of this crisis, I hurt when you hurt. However, our heads and our backs have been bowed for over a week. That’s just too long – Enough! – we are Kenyans. Unbowed. Heads to the sky - Rise up!

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