By Abdi Ismail Dalal
Feeling has no power against reason but feeling older than history is no light matter so they say. I can justifiably vouch for the above statement after witnessing and experiencing one of the most harrowing and cruel atrocity visited upon the innocent and defenceless Somalis of Garissa township by the Kenyan security forces 37 years ago
from today on the night of 9th- 10th of November 1980.
The writer of this short piece was just a young boy aged ten but can remember the gruelling sequel of events that began in earnest that fateful night very vividly. The soldiers descended upon the town at exactly midnight, they started by shooting any person of Somali origin along streets which was followed by a spate of a looting spree with reckless abandon.
The soldiers proceeded to the furthest end of the town and started torching houses, killing men, raping women and continued with their looting up to sun up when we heard announcements made through loudspeakers mounted on military vehicles that all the residents of Garissa were supposed to congregate at the Garissa primary school play
The non-Somalis were immediately allowed to leave but the Somalis regardless of gender or age were ordered to stay put up to mid-day when women and children were permitted to leave.
We left our fathers there hoping that they’ll join us after a short while but little did we know that the Kenyan authorities had other plans for them. Our fathers were forced to spend three days under the harshest conditions without any nourishment or even water.
Some of them perished there as result of the purgatory that they were forced to endure while those who survived came out emaciated and broken.
The memories of those sullen days has left an indelible scar on our psyche, the indignation beneath the rod and our writhes in silent woes makes me feel lonely and lostin this misty and heart–rending experience makes me feel blown beyond grime and hence the need to write about the injustices that we continue enduring to date.
Lastly, I’d like to put the icing on the cake by advising my people by saying, “To go to the Hereafter having a soul which is like a vessel full of injustice, is the last and worst of all the evils–we must learn to speak up against injustice no matter it takes.”
Under the serene azure blue skies and the silver coloured clouds
My hometown is situated, a sanctuary to the bete ‘ noir of this nation -the Somalis
A place left in limbo, for two score years, a decade plus a lustrum
Untold suffering, visited upon the innocent denizens
Men killed and women raped
Our meager resources looted and multitudes reduced to pauperhood
Atrocities committed on quotidian basis, under the guise of preserving state security
The toothless sand – sharks bearing the brunt, the hammer – heads roaming free
Am a part of Kenya so they say, but not at parity with the rest on any aspect of the human endeavor.
Sincerely speaking, am I at one with you?
While all I’ve ever known is pain, persecution and suffering?
Our beloved sanctuary, a sanctum for peace and safety
From Garissa, love and togetherness begins
The wondrous beauty and our unity marred and bludgeoned apart
Our values crushed, our tongues cut out and lips sewn
Our spirit broken and melted away
The Somalis have become crime personified
The recorded account of our experience, vividly in our minds
The indelible scar on our psyche
The horrendous experience, indelible in the red rust of time
The heart-rending groans of the women folk
The ear- splitting cries of the children
The crimson colour of the raging fire, razed, ruined and flattened our town
The corpses strewn all over, some feasted upon by hyenas
The unbearable suffering under the brain – frying sun by our people, without shelter food and water
The Somalis of Garissa tarred with the same brush
The reason? A mystery that we can’t fathom to date
The Hydra-headed persecution comes under a different pretext this time
The story was Shifta previously
The narrative, changed to radicalization and terrorism
The repression intensifies
The ethnic profiling of the Somali, getting more worse
The mysterious disappearance of our youth, arbitrary execution, without any explanation from the authorities, driving us to the outer – frontiers of sanity
The crimes of violence through cold, premeditated volition
The tumultuous carnage continues unabated, no hope of respite anytime soon
The time has come, to ask the reason for these heinous crimes
The cup of iniquity, finally full to the brim
The denizens of this region, are asking for justice
The residents of Garissa demand compensation, for the atrocities visited upon us
The glaring injustice is there for all who are not blinded by prejudice to see
The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice and law is not law, if it violates the principles of eternal justice
Abdi Ismail Dalal
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