Both disappointed and repulsed by the western medias response to the recent massacre at a Kenyan university, I’ve taken to writing this post.
On Thursday, Al-Shabaab gunmen stormed a university in Kenya and killed 147 people, most being students. Graphic pictures flood social media, but that seems to be the main thing people here are interested in.
During the tragic event in France involving the Charlie Hebdo killings, my Twitter and Facebook timelines were full of shocked and saddened comments. At the time, I also was overwhelmed by what had happened. I’m not saying that I am any less now. However, after hearing about the massacre in Kenya I felt similarly, but that feeling didn’t last as long and it did not stick so much in my mind. I cannot differentiate whether this is because it seems more surreal to me, and less relateble, or if it is due to how each event was represented by the media.
After the attack in France, Charlie Hebdo was consistently in the news for weeks, if not months. Similarly, the Germanwings plane crash is well publicized, particularly concerning the co pilot and his state of mind. I see no headlines questioning the Al- Shabaab gunmen s state of minds. I see no rallies being arranged. I see no #iamkenya. I don’t see the same love and compassion we felt for the events that took place closer to home.
Today I came across a comment on Facebook that disgusted and upset me. There was a video of an Australian black man dancing on a train that was posted by someone I met whilst travelling. One comment read “every train ride home from work… Fucking black cunts going wild”, to which the reply was “I need to get on ur trains more often because these black guys are a good fkn time”, the poster of the original comment then replied with a graphic picture of some of the dead students from the attack in Kenya, accompanied by the comment “I agree”. I honestly cannot express how this made me feel, I still cannot get my head around it and still I’m going back to the page and hoping I imagined it. How can someone be so insensitive? Insensitive is such an understatement but I cannot find the words. I thought of the grief stricken parents of some of these students and tried to imagine what their reaction to this might be. For the first time since hearing of the massacre, I cried. I won’t say that I was finally able to try and relate to them, as I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever be able to do. But I was able to fully comprehend what had happened, something I still can’t quite and don’t want to believe.
I started to question whether the the guy who posted the picture would have done the same in reference to the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and I don’t think he would have. And, if he did, maybe of the other people who commented would have been more likely to speak up. I know I can’t fault them for not saying something because I haven’t either, and I can make many excuses of why I didn’t but it wouldn’t change anything. Ultimately, I was afraid of what this guy may say back. I am a coward.
Regardless of this Facebook interaction that took place, it is besides the main point. Why do people care so much less for African lives? Why is there so little published in the media about it? Why are more and more people dying in Africa everyday and why are we doing nothing about it? It reminds me of the situation in Rwanda, that we ignored for so long. I visited Rwanda recently and could tell how advanced their infastructure and economy was compared with surrounding Africa. I could see that that was mostly due to the guilt money we and many other westernized countries send there. I wonder how long it will be until we’re sending guilt money to Kenya, and if we will someday look back at the events on Thursday and think “we could have stopped it there, if we had tried.”