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Kenya: Online Reactions to Suspected Al Shabaab Grenade Attacks

The Kenyan military recently launched a military offensive against the Somali militant group Al Shabaab dubbed “Operation Linda Nchi” in Swahili, which when translated  means ‘Operation Protect The Nation'. Following the offensive, Al Shabaab promised to attack Nairobi.

The Kenyan capital city has already seen two deadly grenade attack incidents: one at a popular entertainment club and the other at a crowded bus stop in downtown Nairobi.

The two incidents have provoked conversation online. A Nairobian Perspective offers “Tips On How To Survive A Grenade Attack”:

This is my own addition and i will put in bold because the vast majority of Kenyans are just senseless when a disaster happens } Do not go to the scene of a terrorist attack to watch. Terrorists like to set off secondary targets to kill as many police and rescue personnel as possible.Furthermore you may hinder or interfere with the rescue efforts or evidence gathering!

The site of where the pin of the grenade was reportedly found. Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by Jonathan Kalan, copyright © Demotix (24th October 2011).

The site of where the pin of the grenade was reportedly found. Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by Jonathan Kalan, copyright © Demotix (24th October 2011).

Gukira warns against developing xenophobic or discriminatory sentiments against Kenyan-born Somalis:

At JKIA, a Somali woman sees me, smiles at her companion, identifies me as family, begins to ask me a question, but not in English. I smile regretfully, cursing my limited languages, confess that I am not Somali: I just look like one. She smiles again and agrees that I look like one.

I recount this incident to my mother: she tells me to start speaking Gikuyu loudly in public. I have no way to respond. And certainly no smiles to share.
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Ethnic chauvinism is being fed and strengthened. A stream of stories begin to coalesce, to justify this war, because Al Shabaab-Somalis are threatening.

They steal birth certificates from legitimate Kenyan children.
Living in Eastleigh, in a “nation within a nation,” they refuse to assimilate.
They skirt immigration laws and threaten belonging.
They have too much money, probably from selling weapons.
They are threatening our tourist industry.

Never subtle anti-Somali sentiment is getting bolder, even as our leaders tell us that this is a war against Al Shabaab, not Somalia or Somalis. I wonder if the bombs being dropped are as discriminating in their tastes.
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We seem to have one color code and it’s green: go and kill, is the command.

Wamathai utters similar sentiments:

Kenyan police clean up fragments from the explosion. Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by Jonathan Kalan, copyright © Demotix (24th October 2011).

Kenyan police clean up fragments from the explosion. Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by Jonathan Kalan, copyright © Demotix (24th October 2011).

Our brothers in Eastleigh, in North Eastern, in Nanyuki, Mombasa, lamu and Nakuru(Kenyan Towns) are caught in the middle of a bad bad situation. Many of them, their fathers and mothers, have kept our streets safe in the police, have fought for kenya since the 1960s in the armed forces. They are at the heart of our best trained troops, our critical and necessary anti-stock theft unit. Many of them are risking their lives, right now in Kismayu, their families right now being insulted and abused in Eastleigh. They do not have to defend their belonging. We are in unchartered waters and our behaviour to these brothers and sisters will define our common future.

IddSalim questions the underlying reasons for the Kenyan military offensive and its timing:

First of all, I do not support the Kenya vs Somalia ‘war’. We can’t beat them in football, and we challenge them in a cat-and-mouse game they play EVERY day? But that is NOT the reason for my lack of support. Somalia Militia (From Somalia, Not Kenya) have been killing Kenyans for years in the North Eastern parts for ages. Nothing major was done. But as soon as they Kidnapped some Europeans (Our gods), a full-scale war is waged. Where is our sense of national pride? Why are we valuing tourists’ lives more than our own? Aren’t all humans equal?

The site of where the pin of the grenade was reportedly found. Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by Jonathan Kalan, copyright © Demotix (24th October 2011).

The site of where the pin of the grenade was reportedly found. Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by Jonathan Kalan, copyright © Demotix (24th October 2011).

On Twitter the word Grenade was trending on Trendsmap Nairobi .

SKibuchi quipson the popular song by Bruno Mars:

al shabaab cnt stop me i gt Bruno Mars 2 catch the grenade 4 me

While many Kenyans are asking themselves whether or not other attacks are to follow, it seems that at least Kenyans online are taking precautions and addressing themselves on how not to develop negative perceptions of their fellow country men of Somali descent.

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