Time to change tack in war against violent extremism
By Churchill Saoke
| January 19th 2019
Let me offer my heartfelt condolences to families and friends of those who lost their lives in the cruel and inhuman terror attacks at the DusitD2 hotel on 14 Riverside Drive. This act reminds us of how much terrorism has claimed the lives of thousands of people since the September 11th attack of the US and the 1998 attacks on Nairobi.
We have stood strong in the face of these atrocities; we have developed numerous ways of countering this violent extremism. Some of the very progressive interventions have been tackling youth unemployment to counter radicalisation, establishment of exclusion camps, launching a fight against the Al Shabaab in Somalia and partnering with the international community to boost the fight.
The questions still ring in the minds of programmers of anti-radicalisation programmes on who was behind the attack and what was the intention? Other questions arise as to why is Kenya always the target? Could it be because we have week systems? I say no… no.. Could it be because our systems are too tight that the enemy feels proud when they penetrate and effect their evil acts? Could it be because our national strategy against the militants have countered all their efforts and the only thing left is aggression?
My bet and my firm belief is that the attacks on Kenya are a sign of the strength of our nation and her strategy against violent extremism in the region as well as the vitality of the Kenyan people to withstand the toughest test from such acts of cowardice.
Kenya has stood as the beacon of hope and stability in this region acting as the bridge of reconciliation for the establishment of a functional government in Somalia, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and the truce between Ethiopia and Eretria. Our nation has offered refuge to millions of refuges in war ravaged areas in the region, taking responsibility to cover the most vulnerable people.
Kenya, in her resilience unilaterally made a bold, courageous step to single handedly launch an offensive attack on Somalia to destroy strongholds of the Al-Shabaab militant group. Our security screening in almost all public areas is top notch in the region and matches those of advanced nations. Kenyans are known for their hard work, an attribute that has made Kenya the regional economic powerhouse hosting major multinational corporations, multilateral agencies and for the past seven years, Kenya has hosted top multinational and multilateral conventions.
These achievements of the nation makes me believe that we are attacked not because we are weak but because we are strong. Therefore in acting against the militant groupings, we must act strong and know the enemy knows who we are.
The loss of lives at the DusitD2 hotel must strengthen our resolve to understand our role in the region and take more progressive steps in a united front to fight the enemy that seeks to weaken us.
Allow me to highlight one key issues that we should undertake in this endeavour to build a stronger country against violent extremism;
Patriotism: Fighting terrorism isn’t just a job for security apparatus or government but a role that must be played by each and every citizen. We must build a strong sense of patriotism for our nation. In doing so the citizenry would expand the surveillance system beyond the cameras. Loyalty to the country by the people in protecting the nation from future attacks would push the intelligence, the immigration, the national defence and internal security agencies to undertake their duties with due diligence especially at the borders with Somalia. The political elite have a role therefore to unite the people in a manner that no element of division be it ethnic, religious or racial appears within the national fabric.
We must remain strong as a people. We must continue to be the hardworking Kenyans admired by the peoples of this region and other from far and wide. We must continue to be the hospitable people that has made our nation the pride on African tourism, agriculture and a hub for business. We are being attacked because we are strong; we must never tire, we must act like it.
-The writer is an expert on governance, international relations, a champion for development, a Mandela-Washington fellow and is the Director for Alumni and International Students Office at JKUAT. [email protected]
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