Saturday, April 11, 2015

European Response to Kenyan Massacre is Offensive

Gunmen allegedly linked to the now notorious Al Shabab recently wreaked havoc in Kenya extinguishing 147 young intellectual lives at Garissa University. The images of the dead lying in pools of blood and the accounts recounted by survivors are bloodcurdling.

France has just announced that it would pay fees for 109 students injured in the attack to, in the words of the French ambassador to Kenya, Remi Marechaux, help Kenya deal with the threat of terrorism al Shabaab.

Italy also said it would offer 25 scholarships to students from the Kenyan university to study at Italian Universities.

Now, seriously, that is more than what any African country or the whole African Union has done on the issue.

But what makes Europeans think that cash handouts are all that can do for Africa?

After seeing their friends die, did the students suddenly lose their ability to pay fees? Or to ask it from another angle, did these students had to lose best friends and lovers to qualify for a scholarship? What does this scholarship say to the students?

One would think that the Italians and the French would provide psychologists to help with the trauma, or maybe pay hospital bills, or build a high wall around Garissa… it had to be tuition.

Did the assassins also kill the parents of these students?

After a school shooting say in America, do the injured get scholarships?

I am trying to imagine being a dad of one of the injured student at Garissa and your child calling you to say that because they were glazed by a bullet or grenade shrapnel, they would now have their fees paid for by the French. I would be offended as a dad. I would think someone is thinking that I died in the attack. Same applies to the parent’s that lost a child in the attack.

The scholarships fix nothing.

If I were the principal of the Garissa University, I would also be offended, are the Italians assuming that Garrissa can no longer give lectures and degrees?  

For those of us that asked the initial questions, we will not be bought by cash handouts. The issue was that after 12 people died in Paris, the media did not sleep and almost all UN members assembled at the Paris march to show solidarity and to stand up to terrorism, yet in the case of Kenya or in the cases in Nigeria, the world big media and the world leaders seem not to care.

It is the same old Eurocentric way of doing things; instead of simply pretending to drum up the importance of the Kenya attack, instead of fairly admitting that the Kenyan attacks were indeed not hyped compared to the Paris attacks, someone thinks that splashing cash at it will fix the problem.

Kenya is one of the biggest economies in Africa, it is an independent nation, it is surely able to educate and protect its own, if it cannot, it should be Kenyans asking their government questions.

This is all guilt, the Europeans know that they lost 12 men and brought the world to a halt and yet seemed unmoved when 148 people of a darker skin tone perished.

The defense for Europe is simple, France has a better pull and used all its means to rally the world to Paris and to buy sympathy from big media by appealing to the right phrases such as ‘freedom of expression.’ It is also natural for Europeans to identify with their fellow Europeans unlike some distant students in Kenya in addition to the fact that most of the powerful media is owned by people who look like the average European, I mean, white.  

I think Kenyans and Africans would understand if they were simply told that, technically, some lives are more material to Europeans.

Europeans can only  be guilty here if the guns and grenades that killed the Kenyan students were made in Europe, but that is a story for another day, for today, the splashing of scholarships at this complex problem is not only insensitive but also offensive to, not just the Kenyans but to all Africans.

How would the French react if, say, South Africa, offered the staff at Charlie Hebdo shopping vouchers?

Let Kenya deal with its problems, if not Kenya, let the AU, led by Mugabe, step in. The rest feels like someone is feeling guilty.