On April 2, 2015, gunmen entered Garissa University in Kitengela, Kenya and executed 147 students. Their crime? They were christian. Social media is abuzz because when muslim gunmen charged the offices of Charlie Hebdo, killing 11 people, the world rallied around the slogan “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) in solidarity to the unjust brutality of the attack. Where is the slogan for Garissa?
This is the question surrounding #blacklivesmatter in the twitterverse. The implication is that if the students were white, the world would be up in arms, but since they are black, they don’t matter. Naturally, the jab that since Kenya has no oil, they don’t matter, but that is a red herring. Oil has nothing to do with it.
Why then the difference? One could argue that the Kenya massacre is an order of magnitude greater than Hebdo, and I agree. We should be outraged, yet in the West, we are not. The attack was brutal, senseless, evil if I say so myself. Yet barely a peep. Where are the “Mimi ni Garissa” (Swahili for “I am Garissa”) signs? The protests?
They are absent.
In journalism there is an old saying: “When dog bites man, that is not news, but when man bites dog, that’s news!”
Paris was a case of man biting dog. Within her boarders, France is a very peaceful country with a strong sense of freedom of speech. So when 11 journalists were gunned down for printing a depiction of the profit Mohammad it seized the French mind on two levels. One, that such an attack occurred. Second, that it was a violent form of censorship.
Violence in Africa are almost all that gets reported here in the West. Rwanda, Boko Haram, Algeria, Lebanon; these are the massacres we hear about in the West. Violent action by tribal warlords or Muslim extremist groups are old hat in the news. They are the dog biting man. Though I should not compare these murderous extremists to dogs, it’s insulting to canines.
That is the only reason. In Europe, 11 dead in a mass shooting doesn’t happen. In Africa, we hear about something like that every day. But that is what religious extremism gets you.
My heart goes to the family of those lost in Kenya. The loss of your loved ones is senseless and despicable. I wish I had an answer, but I don’t. All I can do is say, mimi ni Garissa!