This week was eventful in a significant way. Tuesday 15th, January at about 3pm, Terrorists attacked Nairobi’s DusitD2 complex in Nairobi on 14 Riverside. Nairobi is dear to me, and 14 Riverside a familiar address as I once worked for a company whose offices are domiciled in the complex.
Fast forward. A journalist working for the New York Times publishes gory pictures showing people killed in the attack, the whole operation still in flight. Kenyans on Twitter, known as KOT, pick up a fight on how wrong this was and demand the photos be removed because they are offensive and rather insensitive. The journalist who filed the story claims they were not responsible for choosing the photos accompanying her report, telling those offended to direct their anger to the photo department at the NYT.
Well several days on, The New York times hasn’t budged and nothing has been done, except Twitter blocking their Twitter handle in the first few hours when the outrage escalated.
To my point, not so much about who is right or wrong in the fray. More what is right, human, appropriate in such a situation.
The humanity seen during the attack and after. The countless stories of heroes and sheroes who stepped into harms way to rescue another or lend a hand in such a delicate situation is heart warming. Captured in pictures, a mother is seen providing food to the security officers in the rescue mission. People are donating blood. All across the country. The Kenya Red cross in full swing ferrying the injured to various hospitals for care. There is lots of the best of our humanity at hand at such a crucial juncture. On the other hand the arguments to and fro rage on, losing perspective along the way of what is at hand.
So often it is saddening when conversations lose face and heart. When they are reduced to a shouting match and everyone on their side feeling justified and our humanity, our common humanity suffers as a result. At a human level, we all know what is right in such a situation. And bantering and arguing back and forth wont resolve the issue. If anything it damages goodwill which is essential to the functioning of our social fabric.
Even as this goes on, the answers to certain questions, if we put ourselves in the wearer’s shoes are clear.
How would anyone like to know that their loved one is no more in the heat of such crisis through gory photos in an article in a foreign newspaper or social media?
How would those who lost loved ones find such ghastly pictures floating online of their beloved?
Why do we lose sight of our humanity in such a context and reduce it to a job or a role we are playing in society?
No wonder we blame the usual suspects… Race, privilege, patronage and the list goes on into ignominy!
I personally don’t care what anyone chooses to blame. We need to redeem our humanity and do the right thing!
Nothing else will fix this, now or in the future. We must remember we are human first before we are anything.
The attack at 14 Riverside is a stark reminder of that… The newspapers report that we lost several Kenyans, An American, a Briton and a few Africans. Well that’s after the fact; when we’ve had the luxury of attaching a label. In the heat of the moment, the attackers never gave a hoot. They shot indiscriminately. It didn’t matter the label – whether colour, race, gender or religion. None mattered. They all suffered the same fate.
It didn’t matter either, for those on the rescue mission. Whoever they could lend a hand, they did all they could to get them to safety. None of the labels mattered!
Again the point is clear. We are first human before we are our Nationality, Race, Gender or Religion. We should never forget the bonds of our common humanity. We must continue redeeming our humanity and such incidents, however sad often remind us of the best of us in the worst of situations. All in a flash of a moment.
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