I wrote this last week for the Star newspaper in my weekly column The Extreme Side (Life With a Pinch of Masala). A lot of people shared negativity about the Garissa attacks. I hope you will share this to get the message across.
This massive tragedy is the only thing we are talking about and rightfully so. We lost a hundred and forty seven people who would have carried the responsibility of taking this country forward on their shoulders. Kenyans have stood by each other yet again in the wake of tragedy ,which immediately goes to show that we really are one and don’t need that hashtag to justify it. We have wept, mourned, stood by each other, given comfort and displayed our anger at everything that has gone on. We really are one.
I’m writing this today to get a few things off my chest about some things. Let’s start with the people who started circulating the gory pictures of the dead students with captions demanding world attention, similar to that of Charlie Hebdo. I was horrified to see that people thought it perfectly acceptable to circulate pictures of the dead students lying in each other’s blood. Their families and friends are bound to keep seeing those pictures, trying to make out who their loved on is. Is that really how you honour dead victims of a terrorist attack? Has social media taken over your life so much that for retweets, shares and likes, you will go to the extent of putting up such pictures demanding the world’s attention?
It hurt and upset me immensely. I blocked, unfollowed and deleted people who thought it was ok to do this. I cannot tell people how to handle their social media accounts, and I wasn’t willing to keep explaining why they shouldn’t do it. You see, I’m a terrorism survivor as well. I’ve been through this nastiness of the aftermath of an attack, I’ve been tagged in pictures I never ever wanted to see, I was mailed articles and video clips of the incidence. For what reason, I will never know, and I don’t really care. I detached myself socially and electronically from those people.
Then started the outrage that the world is not giving enough attention to what has happened in Kenya. For Charlie Hebdo, the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie went viral and was used worldwide so why not the same for Kenya? It became a race issue from what I gathered in some posts. Then someone decided to create some posters with the hashtag #JeSuisKenyan and then some more outrage started. Why wasn’t this hashtag in Swahili? There is no pleasing of people. Anything that anyone will do will never, ever be enough. There will always be some armchair activist and philosopher who will tell you how to run the world from the other end of their electronic device.
I’ll simply say one thing. If you want the world to take note, get up and be the voice that gets noticed. You want attention then seek it by making the noise that gets heard. You seem to have a lot of ideas on how to run this world then why don’t you just get up and do something about it instead of spewing your nonsense on social media?
The candlelight vigil that was held was beautiful and touched many hearts and people still found reason to criticize that. I get fed up of such people. Put up or shut up. We are all hurting, we are frightened about security issues, we have lost a hundred and forty seven members of our family. We have no time to bicker. This is just a heartfelt message that I wanted to share with you. It’s painful having to relive the horrors of what has happened in the past as I try to grasp what has happened in Garissa.
Get up and be the change you want to see, the voice you want to hear. Don’t shoot down the effort of those who are actually doing it.
Have a thoughtful weekend.