Garrissa, 1 Year On..


“They say the passage of time will heal all wounds, but the greater the loss, the deeper the cut and the more difficult the process to become whole again. The pain may fade, but scars serve as a reminder of our suffering and make the bearer all the more resolved never to be wounded again. So as time moves along we get lost in distractions, act out in frustration, react with aggression, give in to anger, and all the while we plot and plan as we wait to grow stronger, and before we know it, the time passes. We are healed. Ready to begin anew…

As a nation we won’t heal anytime soon. Garissa, a year ago, a day like today, we lost 148 young souls to the brutal hand of terrorism. The senseless killing of such a big number of a generation full of promising young adults brought our resolve to our knees. We ached allover, pain seared through our souls and hollow grief engulfed our hearts.

Happiness was snatched from our hands and all that was left was immeasurable pain that hasn’t receded a bit, a year on. The brightness of our worlds was overwhelmed by a cloud of darkness as we tried to come to terms with the loss of 148 generations. As we followed the updates from the Northern Kenya, our hearts broke time and again as the numbers rose with every passing hour.

We were deprived of peace as our minds refused to imagine what our children, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, neighbours and friends, lovers and colleagues were going through in the hands of serial killers thirsty for blood. Numbness overcame our bodies as tears, feelings of helplessness and unfathomable hurting broke us piece by piece every passing minute.

Our fickle imaginations shuddered at the thought of what those students were going through…running for their lives not knowing whether or not they would see the next corner or reach the other side of safety…lying down, listening as bullets tore through the bodies of fellow comrades, not sure when their turn would come…hearing screams from all around campus as life was being snatched away from fellow young Kenyans…looking as bullet holes robbed friends of their last breaths…looking on in horror as eyes turned from shining to lifeless…as the warmth left bodies rendering them as cold as the floor they last lied on .

The atrocity made sure that fathers and mothers wouldn’t meet future grandchildren, brothers and sisters wouldn’t watch fellow siblings actualize their dreams, village folk wouldn’t see the fruits of their child, some children grew up orphans, men and women lost future wives and husbands, our country lost future patriots, servicemen and women…

I didn’t get to go to Chiromo but the stories from there were more painful..Scheaffer Okore, an activist who made it to the mortuary describes what she saw…

“Chiromo mortuary was a place you walked in whole and walked out a shell of yourself. Watching families who’d traveled from so far hoping to identify their children from whatever was left of them, there are no words enough to describe that.

I remember a mother who searched for her child through piles of other seriously deformed bodies. Of bullets holes through skulls, obliterated facial features, tattered flesh and broken bones. Skulls thrust open brains spilled out and hearts un-beating. Young, exuberant and life filled humans lay lifeless, motionless and un-responsive.”

The pain still lingers on and we must reflect back as a people, understand what went wrong and seal the loopholes to ensure that no one ever goes through such an ordeal again. Anna White says that it is the capacity to feel consuming grief and pain and despair that also allows us to embrace love and joy and beauty with our whole hearts. We must let it all in, recall the pain so that we never allow ourselves to be that vulnerable again. The pain should remind us of the things we need to address to guarantee a future absent of such calamities.

Iris Murdoch asserts that bereavement is a darkness impenetrable to the imagination of the unbereaved but as a country we mourn with families that lost their loved ones. Personally, I haven’t forgotten the pain of their loss. I may not be in a position to do a lot but I mourn the lost lives in my own way and I keep the bereaving families in my prayers.

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