On my way to work this morning, I glanced at the paper and two stories caught my attention. One was about Paul Muite suing someone on Facebook, which I thought was hilarious. I don’t remember the details, but Muite was demanding an apology from someone who claimed he coached ICC witnesses. According to the story, if the apology doesn’t come in 7 days, things will go to court. I found the whole thing hilarious and wondered why I hadn’t seen it on Twitter. Apparently, the story did break online. Last week.
The second story that moved me was the one about the war. Yes, in case you haven’t heard, we’re allegedly at war with Somalia.
I didn’t want to write this piece, because it’s a weighty issue, and I don’t like approaching weighty issues with a lack of knowledge. I don’t have all the statistics about the number of troops, the reason behind the war, the ideology at work and all that. But as I trawled my timeline, I felt everyone was missing the point.
This isn’t about whether or not we’re at war – that’s sheer semantics, and semantics never got anyone anywhere unless they were looking for a PhD in English. It’s not about copyright raids in Eastleigh, or rising rent in South B, or even about misappropriated budgets. It’s about Kenyans. Sons and daughters who got into the military for all the wrong reasons.
I know people who joined the Armed Forces because they couldn’t get a job. They spent six years in
Russia Ukraine getting aviation degrees, and when they came back home, the only place where they could work with planes was in the airforce. I know people who signed up for boot camp because they simply love to run, and the best way to get to Daigu was on the MP team. I know people who learned to fire a gun because their fathers and their fathers’ fathers did.
All these people got into the army with one basic assumption based on fact – in our entire 48 year history, Kenya has never been at war. Sure, we sent some troops to Bosnia for peacekeeping tasks, but other than that, no war. Their main job would be keeping fit and showing off on 20th October.
Now suddenly, our boys and girls are in the zone. Well, the boys are anyway. Last I heard, they don’t send girls to war, no matter how badass their gunning skills are.
My first thought was – are they ready? Are they mentally prepared for combat? Do they have any idea what they’re getting themselves into? I suppose they’re trained, and I bet they’ve simulated their asses off. But are our boys in green prepared to face live mortars, especially from potential extremists with nothing to lose? I read in a book once – I think it was Tom Clancy – that you can’t fight someone who’s willing to die. In such a fight, you’ve already lost. And this is the exact situation we’re sending our boys into.
My next thought was that these are people’s sons and daughters. We’re all so pre-occupied with the logic of the thing, whether we have funds for war, whether it’s politically expedient, whether we can really beat the Alshabab. I haven’t heard one person think about the human lives that we’re putting at risk. I suppose you could say they knew what they were doing when they signed up. After all, it’s what they’re paid to do. But I’d like to see a little more feeling going towards the human lives we’re tossing away so carelessly.
I’m not underestimating the importance of national security. I’m not saying a lot of thought didn’t go into this. I’m not saying we don’t need to protect our borders,
or the tourists that reside within them or the potential for foreign exchange I’m not saying this is or isn’t a war, or that it is or isn’t a good thing. I’m saying instead of sitting here and bitching about statistics, we should think about the lives involved. So far, five have been lost that we know of. No, it wasn’t enemy fire. But those are five souls that would still be breathing if we hadn’t gotten into this thing.
So argue all you want. Be an analyst. Be a pundit. Name names, call whoever you want to call. But for fuck’s sake, give a thought and a prayer to the soldiers involved. They’re not statistics. They’re human lives. Wives, daughters, husbands, fathers, sons. So take a moment to think before you tweet, and say a prayer or two for our boys. They need them.