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It is time to debunk ‘Kenya is safe’ myth

Monday, February 03, 2014

Kenya: Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku’s advice to Kenyans to ignore warnings on social media might have sprung from genuine concern over possible hoaxes that could strain police resources to fight crime.
However, he is wrong to dismiss everything out of hand. There is good reason to believe that Al Shabaab is planning attacks in revenge for the killing by the Kenya Defence Forces of hundreds of their militants in the Somali theatre of war.

That has been backed up by revelations at a US Senate briefing that was candid in its analysis of Kenya’s ability to prevent such attacks in the event that they were to happen. In short, our security is a myth and we must wake up to this fact or suffer unthinkable consequences.

The police cannot be everywhere and in the aftermath of the attack on Westgate Shopping Mall and yesterday’s events in Mombasa, it is imperative that Kenyans living in key urban areas across the country accept this and act accordingly.

The Government must stop behaving like it is business as usual. The truth is that there is no country that can fully protect its citizens from terrorist attacks, but there are ways to limit the frequency, scale and impact of the same.

Top of course is quick action on intelligence reports, including those from Kenya’s foreign security partners like the United States. The police have in the past been too slow to act on tips by civilians yet this is of the essence. Second is to begin debunking the myth that the likes of Ole Lenku appear keen on propagating: that Kenya is safe and we should not pay any attention to the warnings in social media. That is far from the truth.

Every Kenyan, regardless of their status, has a duty to ensure their personal security and that of their family, friends and colleagues. They must be more alert to spot anything that seems too much out of the norm.

Having been hit not once but many times, albeit with varying degrees of impact, and given the many public security lapses, it would be folly of the highest order to make assumptions like Lenku’s.


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