Saturday, September 21, 2013

What Meaneth This Bloodshed?

Words fail me in the aftermath of #WestgateAttack. I suspect that others like me are dumbstruck with shock. Yet I am a mere armchair witness - I can't begin to comprehend what the survivors, the injured and the bereaved are going through.

Nevertheless my immediate gut feeling is that my country Kenya has been irrevocably dragged into a new chapter, a more advanced chapter than "August 7 1998," both chronologically and substantially. Things will never be the same again. Parallels with 9/11 are inevitable. Just like 9/11 opened a new chapter in the history of the United States, so did the violent Westgate mall attack proclaim a new era for Kenya, by adding a new literal and ideological battlefield to the heap of issues on our plate. Historical injustices and current affairs at home and abroad were enough of a headache before this; even the sweeping of these peeves under the rug must now be put on hold to address the incarnate nightmare.

Before, vague and formless ghosts of insecurity and crime haunted the Kenyan psyche. Now appears a brazen demon called Terrorism, which, in the Westgate Attack, has shattered the average mwananchi's previous mental threshold of conceiving the limits of gratuitous violence. For a few hours at least, the field of play was thrown wide open, the rules turned out to be obsolete, the law of the jungle prevailed.

It's a bad look, it won't sit easy in the mind. Kenyans are already united in grief. The damage is done, the trauma inflicted, closure will surely be sought, beside assurances that worse is never to come. Outrage and indignation, recrimination and retribution must surely lie ahead. Patriots will hector and the media will broadcast it. The sum of it demands some type of efficacious reaction. Somebody will step forward to provide it.

Such an odyssey once already embarked on will unavoidably chart a course for generations yet unborn, a legacy whose meaning we would do well to search out early.

What does this mean? Only time will tell.

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