westgate mall: tragedy, irony and anger

The tragedy is as obvious as day; the irony, on the other hand, keeps slapping us in the face as events unfold.

I found the tweets by @HSM_Press, said to be the Twitter handle of the Al-Shabaab fellows, callous and hateful; to declare reason for killing innocent civilians just doesn’t make sense, but to hear the Al-Shabaab people and all the so-called “Islamist” terrorists when they erupt in violence of the nature attributed to them today, the free world does this all the time in Afghanistan, Iraq and nowadays, Somalia.

It is an uncomfortable position to be in, trying to weigh their reason with their irrational actions, and ours with our rational actions, and one even feels hypocritical just beginning to listen to the likes of Al-Shabaab.

Yet when their Twitter account of today was suspended (the third time they’ve had this happen to them) a little bit of irony flashed across my computer screen at the thought that “freedom of expression” and “tolerance” has its limits.


As indeed it should – because these despicable fellows today have attacked and killed innocent civilians, traumatised children – including mine who are in another city and country but are now sleeping restlessly as I type this out sitting on the floor of their room where I have been forced to camp so they feel safe.

If God were running things like Twitter, then Al-Shabaab as a group would be suspended, what with all the comments thrown up about them that finally got them suspended after just ten or so tweets today (and about 50 in all since they opened this particular account), because they are too self-centred to be allowed to exist alongside other people. Their actions keep showing that they don’t believe anyone has a right to exist if they don’t agree with what they think, say or do. 

But then here’s irony again – if God were running things like Twitter, then even the US would probably get suspended, because then perhaps all the angry chaps wearing bomb-vests and whatnot would simply sign up numerous Twitter accounts and ‘Report User’ till the deed got done.

God (the real one in the real world) knows that I looked for a ‘report’ button when I came across the USAToday report of today’s (yesterday’s) attack in Nairobi, because I could not believe the self-centredness in it.

Read the headline, “Americans among injured in deadly Kenya mall attack“.



By the time that was up, we were all lamenting that more than 30 people had been killed and 300 were injured – and none of us had talked about the nationalities of these people. Actually, we had heard reports that the attackers had singled out non-Muslims as legitimate targets for their shootings, and we had expressed a range of emotions running from anger to hatred – and then this headline flashed at me off my computer screen.

Americans among injured…

If an American had slipped and grazed his knee while fleeing the scene of the attack, it was more important than the pregnant woman reportedly shot and declared dead on arrival at one Nairobi hospital (and I don’t know her nationality yet!).

And you know why that is all the more ironic? Because that’s the kind of thing the hateful Al-Shabaab people keep saying about their mortal enemies, the “Kuffars” (to quote their earlier tweet) or kafirs, as we used to say.

We, on the other hand, are so selfless that hours into the siege at Westgate, @newvisionwire reported confidently: “Breaking News: 3 shot dead in Afghanistan…” with the usual irrelevance brought on by gobbling up ‘international’ news and forgetting what is all the more important to us here, at home in East Africa.

Up to now, 0100hrs, thirteen-plus hours after the attack began, we are wondering whether there are any Ugandans on the list of dead and wounded…or are there only Americans?

Either way, we are angry. Very ANGRY at the self-centredness of people who only care about themselves…  

4 thoughts on “westgate mall: tragedy, irony and anger

  1. Very sad indeed that we continue to live with ‘extremists’ of all kinds. In this particular case terrorists whose motives for attacking innocent people still beats all understanding. To your point though of the headline in USA TODAY, personally I see nothing wrong with that considering that:
    1. It’s readership is predominately citizens of that country and as such would want to first of all find out if their “loved ones” are part of the siege.
    2. The US government is never shy to tell whoever cares to listen that almost everything they do or care about is in the interest of the USA and so the headline only goes to emphasize this.
    3. If you quickly google stories related to the attack you will find that quite a number of nations have put an emphasis on finding out if their nationals were caught in the attack(http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24192168 ).

    I guess what I am trying to emphasize is that it’s only instinctive for one to first find out in any tragedy if first of all their relatives/friends/nationals are caught up in it and that Mr. Kaheru is the irony of this thing called “United Nations”


    1. Good comment, Sandor – and that IS self-centredness, which breeds division and in extremis leads us to events such as yesterday’s. As you indicate, when do we finally use the phrase ‘United Nations’?
      My disappointment with USA Today, however, is in choosing to focus on injured Americans as lead rather than the dead (who we eventually learnt included an American). It is unity at times like these that will give us victory as humanity <—anyone should feel free to quote that.


  2. Let’s not delude ourselves! It is always family first then the rest. I worry about my home before I worry about the neighbour; It is natural and true for the majority of the human race.


    1. There is no delusion: whereas you must worry about your home before your neighbour’s, you certainly wouldn’t stand over your neighbour’s corpse in his burnt-out home and cry about having stubbed your toe while you were trying to help put the fire out, would you?


What do YOU think? Leave a Reply in your own words

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s