Marsabit….and an ode to Godana and Waqo
I returned from Northern Kenya by road late last night on what had been a difficult trip as part of a response to the famine situation in that part of the country, only to get the sad news a few hours later that several government officials and politicians had died in a plane crash near Marsabit.
My journey to and from the region was made difficult by heavy rains that have made movement nearly impossible.
I’m mourning, but also angry….
I have been wondering why:
1. The rainy affair (assuming it’s the only valid reason) had not informed flying decisions surrounding the trip, coming so soon after the Dr. John Garang plane crash that reportedly occured because of the same reason. I honestly want to hope no one, particularly the militias that have reportedly been roaming in the region lately, have had anything to do with the crash. It always pained me whenever they ran roughshod over the local populace and got away with it with minimal or no response from our disciplined forces. If they had a hand in this, they should be tafutwad and made to pay for it. If they didn’t, it is still high time they ceased destabilizing the region, whatever their local connections. Look at the pain the insecurity has just caused us!
2. The Office of Public Communications, State House and the mainstream Kenyan mainstream media took ages to break the news. Both the Nation and the Standard began confirming the obvious long after ordinary wananchi had been calling and smsing each other, sometimes with false details (there was a terrible one with a list of unpopular government ministers as the victims). I noted that while the BBC radio and online editions beat everyone of the MSM boys to it, the information flow locally was torturously slow for many. The added speculations and counter-speculations were completely unnecessary in the process. As a country, we still need to grow in the area of crisis management and communication.
Just some quick thoughts on the crash itself:
1. In one fell swoop, it has taken away nearly all the protagonists and antagonists in the insecurity question that has plagued parts of the region for quite a while now. What does this mean for the people of the area? What lessons can they pick from this terrible disaster?
2. It has plucked crucial members of the government of the day, particularly operatives that were helping run the Government of National Unity (GNU) with a steely determination amidst raging political storms. I never, for instance, agreed with Hon. Mirugi Kariuki’s post-Moi politics, but I admired his contribution to our country’s human rights’ movement in years gone by. He will be missed in his determined defense of the government of the day, despite accusations that it was running against much that he had believed in before it came to power.
3. It reminds us that we never seem to learn – Why should our leaders fly together when it was mentioned by the Muthoga team after the Busia plane crash in 2003 that it could be a destabilizing factor to the nation? I personally hope that some of our leaders who are in the habit of flying around are reflecting deeply on this; in this age of man-made and natural disasters, we can never be so careful about such incidents. I especially do not want President Kibaki or any of his current opponents ever having to die that way; it’s no disaster I would wish on any country, least of all my own Kenya.
Now….an ode to both Dr. Bonaya Godana and Bishop William Waqo, both of whom perished in the crash.
– Godana: I never interacted with you personally, but you were one of the few politicians I respected in this country. A young man whose guardian / foster-parent you were happened to become one of my best buddies at the university; he’s mourning and I’m mourning with him for you were a man truly worth his tears. You were truly a leader. May North Horr truly be consoled at this hour.
– Waqo: I never met you in person too, but your helpfulness to me on phone as the ACK Provincial Secretary in the stories I was chasing at the height of the gay marriage debates within the worldwide Anglican Communion – while working with one of the mainstream Kenyan newspapers – was just what I needed at the time. I wrote Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi about a year ago to thank you for it. I hope to God you got my little note of thanks. I’m also aware that the Christian community in Northern Kenya is what it is today partly because of your input there in recent years. Blessings in Heaven, Christian soldier, you now form part of the Cloud of Witnesses (Hebrews 12:1-2) that is cheering the rest of us on at this challenging moment in our collective national and world history!
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