Early this year, a terrorist attack by Al Shabaab militants claimed 21 lives at a hotel in Nairobi. The luxury Westlands hotel, DusitD2, welcomed business travellers and other tourists seeking to enjoy themselves as they passed through our city. The deadly attack on January 15, 2019 aimed to frighten the nation, and deter foreign visitors and investors. Six months on, we can say loudly that they did not succeed.
The deaths are a great tragedy, still mourned by the nation, but our resilience is more powerful than any act of defiance by deranged fundamentalists. Terrorism will never trump us. Though human nature is sometimes strange, it is a powerful force marked most prominently by hope, optimism and enthusiasm.
In Bram Stoker’s gothic epistolary novel Dracula, an excerpt from Dr Seward’s diary talks of human resilience after a frightening period: “It is really wonderful how much resilience there is in human nature. Let any obstructing cause, no matter what, be removed in any way, even by death, and we fly back to first principles of hope and enjoyment”. Even in the darkest of times, we are able to put on a cheery exterior and keep on going about our business as usual.
For this reason, terrorism is an overall ineffective strategy. Though radicalism may pose a serious threat, it will never be strong enough to destroy us. Kenyan society is far too organised and resilient to let terrorism get in the way of our development plans. With the support of the Government as well as local businesses, DusitD2 hotel on Riverside drive is back in business. It took six months of renovations, staff training and rebuilding, but they have done it with great success.
The opening ceremony included a touching moment in which our star runner David Rudisha raised the Kenyan flag. The revamped facilities now have enhanced security measures, including bag checks at the entrance and plainclothes officers protecting the property. Tourism CS Najib Balala used the event to assert the fact that Kenya has bounced back even stronger. The hotel owners clearly have faith that Kenya is a country worth investing in.
As President Uhuru Kenyatta noted on the day after the attack, “for every act of evil that led to injury, there were a dozen acts of compassion, overflowing patriotism and individual courage”. Today, Kenya is again being lauded for its counter-terrorism efforts. It takes a nation to stand together and rebuff radical currents that try to penetrate pockets of society.