Binyavanga Wainaina on remembering victims of the Garissa terror attack

Baragoi. Burnt Forest. Eastleigh. Kapedo. Kariobangi. Kasarani. Kiambaa. Kiambu. Kibera. Kisumu. Likoni. Mandera. Mpeketoni. Murang’a. Naivasha. Nakuru. Ruiru. Trans Mara. Westgate. And others.

Acts of terrorism in these places, whether perpetrated by criminals or the state, were quickly forgotten by Kenyans eager to move on and not deal with the uncomfortable truths around them. It is this reality that has motivated a section of Kenyans on twitter to post names and pictures of victims of the victims of last Thursday’s Garissa University terror attack under the hashtag #147notjustanumber.

Here’s Binyavanga Wainaina reiterating this point over at Africa is a Country:

We are not a nation if we can’t properly and fully memorialize each and every citizen we lose. I want to see the names ages and photographs of those who died in Mpeketoni. Those killed during PEV. Stories. Forgetting is not good. It is in these acts, our public commons reawaken. The politics of saying we are not ready to face ourselves, the fullness of our pain, is the same politics that allows us to ignore it when a Kenyan strips the institution they are given to run, strips it dry, dry, and returns like a zombie, a plastic rubber-band zombie in some new form, to govern somewhere else again.

I want a public again. I want some random church choir knocking on my door at easter to sing at my door. I want to see three million Nairobians flood the streets to cry, and sing, and hug because our children have been killed. I want to stop feeling that we live inside mostly the private. I want never to hear the word self-empowerment again.

…. I want thousands of names inscribed permanently in Uhuru Park. I want each name to have a story. I want to see the names. I want to see the names. Stories. I want to see the names. Photographs. It is not enough to send MPESA to Red Cross. I want to be a citizen of a nation that is not just Electoristan.

My heart is dull with pain, and I feel the pull to cover it all with that hard, now familiar Kenyan cynicism and move on, which really means suck the very remaining soul of it dry.

More on this here.

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