Mombasa has been the only home I know. Having been raised and studied there, going to any other town is more of a temporary visit than any thing else. I have been in the University of Nairobi since 2009 and to-date, I still find it hard to refer to it as my 'second' home.
So, today the 27th of August, the news of riots and havoc in Mombasa had my heart racing. It all started with the shooting down of a Muslim cleric, Aboud Rogo who was in the company of his wife and their children along Mombasa-Malindi highway. Now for those who know this road know it is a busy lane lined with beach hotels, the public beach and a police station nearby.Therefore, there would have been more casualties than Aboud. How the shooting or who is responsible for the shooting is not yet clear but the man died on the spot, his wife and their daughter were rushed to Mewa Hospital.
News of this shooting, thanks to social media, spread as fast as your internet connection is and in no time, photo's of Aboud were up on Facebook. Again, those who know Mombasa, know how small the community is there and almost everyone was aware of the shooting, Aboud death and in a few hours, riots rocked the town. I heard this and the first thing I did was to call home, call friends and ask on Facebook if this is actually true.
What saddened me was that a person lost his life, property was looted and destroyed in the Central Business District and in Majengo area, a van was set a blaze, matatu fares went up and with the tension, everything was going south. Of course, at this point the Government will not sit and hope that people would be rational and 'protect' life and property. The Police was sent out and tear gas as expected was used to disperse crowds. However this is just what probably the media knows/aired about the state of affairs; I am more concerned about areas such as Bombolulu, Kisimani as well as Bamburi where they are known to be volatile- security wise.
As time went by, a church was vandalized while another set on fire (although it was contained). Now surely, what does this say; what does this scream out? That because a Muslim cleric had been killed, torching a church would make it better? I get the feeling that 'religious' differences are being cited as the reasons for Aboud's killing.That because a Muslim has been killed, the Christians have something to do with it or vice versa.I think, whoever planned and executed Aboud's shooting did it as an individual not as a community or as a religious group.I hope I am not wrong. This in my opinion should not have turned onto the religious stage.Thus by extension, the church that has always served your christian neighbour or that Mosque that has always reminded you that it is time for morning/ midday/night prayers has nothing to do with the selfish actions of an individual or a group behind a sinister action.
Let us respect property, lives and most of all PEACE. At a time when the country is sorting insecurity issues in Tana River and Mandera, Mombasa needs to be still, to respect the rule of law, to be objective and most of all to be slow to anger.In my view this is not a religious battle but a criminal activity. I know these news of the shooting mean different things to different people but at least for Peace sake, let us be rational about this. I challenge you Mombasa, Kenya and YOU: the individual to be STILL.
My Kenyan Thoughts.