HUSSEIN KHALID: The spirit of nationhood lives on in us

Relatives of victims of the Dusit terror attack at Chiromo Mortuary on January 16, 2019. /ENOS TECHE
Relatives of victims of the Dusit terror attack at Chiromo Mortuary on January 16, 2019. /ENOS TECHE

Terrorism is the worst form of human rights violation that could be committed on a person or people. It is heinous because it is directed at an innocent person who has no idea or comprehension of what the terrorist stands for or wants. Terrorism is also a cowardly act because more often than not, it targets vulnerable members of society who are not only defenceless but also have no prior warning of the impending attack.

It is an act that is intended to cause death and/or grievous bodily harm, thus, denying a person their fundamental rights to life, security and own property. One can hardly think of another act that can be as grave as terrorism in outrightly violating the rights and freedoms of a person or group.

On Tuesday armed terrorists descended on 14 Riverside Drive, Nairobi, and violently attacked the office and hotel complex. In the wake of the attack, 14 people lay dead and many more were injured. It is believed that at least five gunmen were involved in the attack, with one of them blowing himself up.

Immediately the attack became public knowledge, Kenyans took to social media to condemn it and send messages of unity, patriotism and nationhood. Our security personnel moved swiftly to deal with the situation in a meticulous, well-coordinated fashion. They neutralised the attackers and saved many lives. It is reported that over 700 people were rescued unharmed and released to go home to their loved ones.

Terrorism does not know tribe, colour or religion. When it happens, every person can be a victim regardless of their background. The Riverside attack, more than any other, showed that terrorism affects everyone. Amongst those who lost their lives were two best friends Feisal Ahmed Rashid and Abdalla Mohamed Dahir. The two are Muslims of Somali origin.

There are many out there who mistakenly associate terrorism with a religion and/or community. Whenever a terror incident is reported, they are quick to condemn a certain community or religion and pour all their hatred on them. Not only is this wrong but it also acts as fodder for terrorists whose goal at the end of the day is to foment ethnic and religious division and animosity.

The day after the Riverside attack, the bodies of those killed were lying at Chiromo Mortuary for identification, DNA testing and fingerprint taking. While at Chiromo to console with the families, Haki Africa was approached by the families of Feisal and Abdalla to assist in processing the release of the bodies for burial. According to Muslim tradition, it is the duty of the entire community to ensure a dead Muslim is buried in the shortest time possible after death.

As a human rights organisation and together with other leaders, Haki Africa worked with the families of Feisal and Abdalla until they got their bodies for burial. We were equally at hand to support the other families with what they required to cope with the loss of their loved ones. Despite the loss, there was a show of unity and togetherness at Chiromo as people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds worked together smoothly to assist each other.

As Kenyans we must remember that there are many people who are jealous of our peace and prosperity. They are not happy when they see Kenya’s 43 tribes living side by side in harmony and working hard together to build a strong, vibrant nation. As such, they are ready to do anything to plant seeds of discord to derail us from our nationhood.

Time and again we’ve been tested and we have shown that our unity will not be defeated. Despite all the challenges, we have not lost our patriotism and continue to thrive in a region filled with wars and chaos. The Riverside attack is a testimony to Kenya’s resolve to continue to shine. This is a clarion call to all Kenyans to never let this spirit of nationhood die down. As a country, we will never give in to terrorists. Whatever hurdles that come our way, we shall overcome!

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