#WeAreOne: Celebrating the Mandera Heroes

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The security threat posed by the Alshabaab on Kenya has refused to go away. Every other day, we live with the fear of a new report about an explosive device recovered here or a hijacked passenger bus elsewhere. In each of these instances, the real test has been on whether we as Kenyans would allow ourselves to be divided alongside radical religious lines.

The selfless move by the Muslim passengers in the ill fated bus to shield their Christian counterparts from the Alshabaab bullets is an embodiment of true brotherhood. It is a victory of sorts against the religious propaganda wars waged by the fundamentalist groups. And a refreshing counter narrative for Kenya at this time before the seeds of religious intolerance began to take root.

The Pope’s recent visit to Africa reminded all people that it doesn’t matter what religion you are in. The most important thing for us is to keep our humanity. To maintain true brotherhood and to have great love and compassion to our neighbours.

The Alshabaab are a politically disgruntled lot that has opted to use religious allegiance to sow discord amongst nations and to further play god in deciding who deserves to live or die. The rate at which fellow innocent human beings are losing their lives, all in the name of making a political statement is sickening. And the whole world needs to borrow a leaf from the #ManderaHeroes on the need for uniting as one against terrorism.

Terrorist activities are in no way meant to benefit the Muslim religion either. Examples of countries that have experienced untold strife as a result of these fundamentalists are largely dominated by Muslim populations. Countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran are not predominantly Christian. Terrorism therefore is not Islamic in nature, and hence the need to rise up and unite against its perpetuation.

It is close to a year now since the Garissa University attacks which left families of more than 147 victims devastated. The #ManderaHeroes have greatly contributed to a change in that narrative. Today, we can hope again. Today we can look at each other United as victims of a war we never asked for. And because of that, we can choose to overlook religious differences as a determinant of who lives and who doesn’t.

The media should gobble down this story like never before. We now have a new lease of life against terrorism. A new narrative behind which we can renew the call for brotherhood and nationalism. As a country, we are grappling with a number of economic and governance issues, but we should not let religious intolerance find its way to that list. And even as we struggle for survival in these harsh economic times, let’s keep reminding these terrorists that indeed, #WeAreOne.

Ooko Victor

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