Since the Westgate attacks, Kenya has been hit by 14 terror attacks, leaving tens of Kenyan people dead and even more Kenyans wounded. Most of them are common men, women and children whose main day to day concern is how to feed their families and their loved ones. For the rest of the world, live continues after the 8 o’ clock news. For the victims, life will not easily be the same as before an attack.
Admit: for most people, terror attacks is something you hear about on the television news. For a few seconds, maybe minutes or days, you are in a shock. We live I a society where most people are familiar with televised violence. I wonder if most people would actually notice the difference between the real world, created in the News and the entertainment world, let’s say the world of Jack Bauer in 24, and the world of some Kenyan fellow who’s son has just been hit by a terrorist attack, or the UN-guy who does not sleep at night because he fears to be attacked?
Let’s start with the Kenyan guy with a family. Most people got struck by a bomb don’t even have the money to go to hospital and get a proper treatment for their wounds. Meaning they have to go home without or they have to collect money from their families, relatives, who are quit often as poor as they, meaning whole networks of poor people are involved in the treatment.
But why do these guys not take an insurance when they know what the consequences are, one could easily argue? True, but the truth is, that most people in this country don’t even have the cash to spend anything that goes beyond their two meals a day. So with the physical injury comes the financial burden. For a common Kenyan, it might take years to pay back this treatment.
Not to talk about the psychological consequences. It is hard to explain what happens in your head after you have been face to face with your own violent death, so I am not even trying. But what I know is, that a certain permanent feeling of fear, un-easiness with oneself comes into your life as a permanent undercurrent: you tend to stop walking around freely, you start avoiding places, you overreact when you hear a bang somewhere and even in interpersonal relationships, at the least sign of something like a disagreement, one already starts feeling threatened.
After a while, not talking days but months or years for other people, that feeling goes. But then you could be confronted with it at unexpected moments, for example when watching a movie that even has a little violence or even reading news about another violent robbery, you just want switch of that situation. But you are not always able to do that.
The above is what happens to thousands and thousands of people anywhere in the world. I could continue writing about, but as this is a blog, I am stopping here. The point I wamt to make is, that this is one of many reasons why violence like we are seeing in Kenya and poverty should be confronted head on by any politician, person or company in this world. I am working on a story about this and I would be interested to talk to anybody who has experience with the terror attacks in Kenya.