Monday, October 28, 2013

NZINGA, THE WARRIOR QUEEN - A Review of the Cultural Stage by Elizabeth Orchardson Mazrui


Prof. Elizabeth Orchardson-Mazrui is an artist, writer and lecturer with a keen interest in the history and culture of the coast-based Mijikenda community of Kenya. Her writing spans academic books/articles, poetry, non-fiction titles and children's tales. He works include Nzinga The Warrior Queen, Sheila Let's Write to God, Adventures of Mekatili, A Revision Text in Art and Design for Secondary School, Art and Design for Forms One and Two and Art and Design for Forms Three and Four. Her most recent offerings are The Pain and Joy of Being (poetry collection, ISBN 9966-7489-0-3) and Travels in the Holy Land and Other Countries (ISBN 978 9966 7489-4-2).  Travels in the Holy Land, which was released during the 2013 book fair chronicles her visits to Egypt  and other places during her childhood and is enriched by numerous pictures from her personal collection. 

Below is a peer review of Elizabeth's, Nzinga The Warrior Queen, written by Dr. Rhone Fraser.

Alexander Nderitu

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Greetings Professor Orchardson,

My name is Rhone Fraser and I earned my Ph.D. in African American Studies in 2012 from Temple University.  I am writing to thank you for your phenomenal play on Queen Nzinga called "Nzinga, The Warrior Queen."  I appreciated your inclusion of the struggle of King Mbande in his leadership that allowed Europe via Portugal to colonize the whole continent.  I appreciated your use of the griot Kabunga who essentially interpreted the dreams and signs and gleamed the fundamental meaning of weak leadership that gave Portugal an entrance.  

On page 11, the griot tells King Mbande before he dies that "the ancestors say that Mbande a Ngola has not done enough to rebuke his clansmen in Kongo and Ndongo...remember the misdeeds of those bloodlines.  Instead of taking this to heart, he curses the ancestors and makes no effort to rebuke his clansmen.  I think you provide the ideological and spiritual explanation for how Portugal was able to infiltrate Ndongo.  The griot later tells Mbande: "the ancestors say at times the King has cooperated with some slave dealers and the conquistadores and grown wealthy as a result."  Kabunga says that Ndongo "needs a fearless leader who will not compromise its people."  I think personally Dr. Richardson, that in this exchange you point to the Africans' own complicity in the slave trade that needs to be discussed more often.  This needs to be talked about more often.  A debate between Henry Louis Gates and John Henrik Clarke dealt with the avoidance of the complicity of Africans in the slave trade (so did a debate in Negro Digest between Martin Kilson and Addison Gayle Jr.).  

Your play speaks to the fact that the slave trade was able to occur in Africa because, as your Kabunga said, leaders of ethnic groups compromised their people and shunned the advice of their griots. I appreciated seeing the conflict between Nzinga and her nephew Aidi unfold, mainly because I see President Obama as Aidi and how he is used by the IMF-controlled Wall Street elite to undermine the interests of justice and harmony in the world.  Nzinga tells Aidi: "the Portuguese do not respect you, they are using you."  If I was in a room with Obama, I would tell him the same thing: that it is better to argue more forcefully against austerity than in public to serve the interests of the Wall Street elite.  Aidi tells Nzinga: "When I become King, I shall pave the way...for the greater good of Ndongo.  I shall follow the example of Kongo and cultivate cordial relations with Portuguese for the good of our people."  This is the common question of colonization that reappears in postcolonial literature.  The idea that by assimilating, the assmilated one will ultimately benefit the colonized group.  This is the tragedy of Friday in Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, the tragedy of Caliban in Shakespeare's Tempest, the tragedy of colonized groups, where the assimilated individual think they will ultimately provide their colonized group with the greater good.  

You also show how the Europeans dismissed the role of women in the military.  The Portuguese commander Laco tells Aidi: "when you become King, you must put an end to this system of women soldiery. It is disgusting."  It reminds me of what Hazel Carby described as the cult of true womanhood ascribed to upper class Victorian women that African women were historically chastised for not emulating.  Aidi tells Nzinga: "even the mulatto women have learned to imitate the Portuguese women to great advantage."  Aidi believes fundamentally in Portugal, like Lorraine Hansberry's character in her play Les Blancs, Abioseh Matoseh, fundmanetally believed in the English.  He believed he would change things as the first Catholic bishop.  Similar to Abioseh, Aidi believes that slavery can be used for the benefit of Ndongo: "we will be able [once assimilated] to insist on a greater percentage of revenue, slaves, export, and import duties, port changes and other levies."  I liked reading Nzinga tell Da Sousa that "women have been soldiers in out country for centuries." 

Dr. Orchardson, I also like how you handle the role of the Catholic church in slavery.  Not overtly celebrating it, but still maintaining a very strong presence.  A lot of the Portuguese inroads would not have been made into Ndongo were it not for the church. The Catholic bishop tells Da Sousa: "we are seeing positive acceptance amongst the African elite.  It is at this level that the people begin to reject traditional beliefs in favor of Christianity." This reminded me of the argument held by a lot of my friends that Christianity and Islam via Europe has ravaged Africa.  This reminds me of the English missionaries in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart and the Catholic church in Malidoma Patrice Some's "Of Water And The Spirit."  Bishop fights with Laco. Both want the same goal of colonizing Ndongo, but in very different ways: Laco uses the gun whereas the Bishop uses deception and the Bible. When Nzinga takes over Mbande's role, to the scorn of Aidi, she tells Samba to arrange for their most trusted soldiers to infiltrate the Portuguese empacassiero ranks and act like they are on the side of the Portuguese.  I like how you show the brilliance of female military strategists in ways that have not been fictionalized before.  

My only question in this whole play is on page 104, where you have a transition between a conversation of Nzinga & Samba, then a discussion with DaSousa without using the stage directions in the consistent manner you were using it before.  On page 108, when Nzinga is defeating the Portuguese militarily, Da Sousa says that he was instructed by His Holiness to deal with Nzinga "gently."  You show here what Chancellor Williams writes about, how Nzinga used her Catholic baptism to her military advantage.  Toussaint L'Ouverture and Henri Christophe and Jean-Jacques Dessalines did the same thing by turning Catholic deities into Voudou deities that allowed them to recognize their African gods in their successful military battles against the Spanish, French and English.  We see how Samba successfully trains the empacassieros to defend Ndongo.  One of them says: "powerful nkisi and ndoki are keeping her safe.  In that case the Portuguese will never be able to annihilate her."  We later see how Nzinga in a spirit form eludes the capture by the Portuguese.  They admit: "we fight to earn ourselves a decent life, not to make Portugal greater."  I think this, Dr. Orchardson,  is the truth of so many working class Americans.  They are not working because they have pride in their country and they want only America to thrive in the world, but because they want a decent life.  And these empacasseiros will earn that decent life even if it means acting like a Portuguese in order to fight on behalf of Nzinga.  This is exactly what Nimi does when he feigns to serve Laco, but as the empacasseiro leaves, he vows to kill this empacasseiros.  Your play speaks to the ways that Nzinga definitely infiltrated the Portuguese ranks with Ndongo supporters who, like Nzinga, acted like they liked Portugal or its institutions, but later served to undermine them in the service of the Ndongo kingdom.  I liked reading how Nzinga rejects Kasanje's proposal in marriage: "I cannot think love and marriage when war is staring me in the face."  I think you show a deep and profound personal struggle that was true of a lot of women who devoted themselves to anticolonial liberation like Claudia Jones, like Ella Baker, like Harriet Tubman, like Frances Harper, like Sojourner Truth.  Each of these women, like Nzinga understood the colonial implications of marriage and they could potentially straitjacket their more important spiritual work and military work to fight colonization.  Kasanje however is persistent: "marry me and I will give you my word that I shall fight alongside."  Nzinga knew this meant that she would "behind" Kasanje, and not with him.  She tells him: "as long as I shall live, I shall fight the Portuguese.  They will never subjugate Ndongo. 

This reminds me of Queen Nanny.  Jamaican thespian Andrene Bonner right now is writing a one woman show on Queen Nanny that I look forward to reading.  You also show the achilles' heel of many white men in battle, which was the love of mulatto women, which Laco definitely was victim to.  Laco's eventual military loss is attributed to his frequent visits to Luanda to sleep with mulatto women: "the white soldiers have become totally undisciplined and lazy because of the indolent life they lead when Laco is in Luanda."  Part of the reason the Portuguese lost was because of their uncontrollable sexual desires for mulatto women.  Ted Lange who wrote a play on George Washington told me about the child that Washington had with a Black women, and the popular term that men had for such Black women, "bed warmers."  We saw Thaddeus Stevens' "bed warmer" in Spielberg's film on Lincoln.  But you show a deeper degree of it and how it affected their military strength.  

Dr. Orchardson, I also like how you show the moral struggles among colonial Catholic church members, like the Bishop, in cooperating with genocide: "God has shown me that my hands are tainted with the blood of innocent people. In my fervent guest for the rapid spread of Catholicism, I erred in promoting wars.  I am as guilty as you are."  The Bishop has a revelation when Da Sousa continues to press for a military solution against Nzinga, when he has been using the diplomatic route all along.  This reminds me of Obama's choice to go the military route to replace Gadafi and Al-Assad instead of engaging in diplomacy.  The military route that Da Sousa wants to take ties the hands of the church who is preaching peace.  I like the conflict you show between Laco and Bishop.  When Laco is captured, you show the compassion in the Ndongo for not slaughtering him in ways that Laco would have probably done himself.  I like at the very end how Nzinga is revived.  While I was reading and thinking that she was dead, people mistook her for Samba and she was able to defend the honor of the Ndongo at the end, and be recognized for exactly that. 

I thank you for telling this whole story of a woman whom Western history wants to forget in order to keep our patriarchal attitudes.  Queen Nzinga represents the anti-patriarch, and the beginning of true knowledge of precolonial Africa.  And I thank you for sharing her.

Rhone Fraser, Ph.D.
Editor / Writer / Artist / Minister

Friday, October 11, 2013


By Alex Nderitu
(www.alexandernderitu.com)

On with the dance! Let joy be unconfined;
No sleep till morn, when youth and pleasure meet
To chase the glowing hours with flying feet.
- Lord Byron (poet)

Kenyan teen sensation Camp Mulla have a song called ‘Party Don’t Stop!’ but if they were more news-conscious they would know that the parry stops pretty quickly when a grenade is lobbed into an entertainment spot or gunshots pierce the night.

Late megastar Michael Jackson once sung, ‘Blood is on the dance floor, blood is on the knife / Suzie got your number and Suzie does it right.’ Even before the Twin Towers went down and terrorism became a global issue, popular entertainment venues would sometimes screen arriving revellers, which in sheng was described as ‘kupigwa tero.’  The reason was because there had been sporadic cases of fights, usually between inebriated young men, some of which ended in knife stabbings and other injuries.

And then terrorism began to spread across the continents like wildfire.  In August 1998, the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed in a synchronized attack believed to have been masterminded by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. The Nairobi attack left 212 people dead, about 4,000 injured and property worth millions of dollars destroyed. And then, on September 11, 2001 - a day that will remain in infamy - hi-jacked planes were flown into the Twin Towers in New York City and another one towards the Pentagon in Washington DC, and the world hasn’t been the same since. Terrorism became a global issue, affecting business and travel across the globe. New legislation such as the Patriot Act in the US was formulated to help nip acts of terrorism in the bud.

In 2002, the Paradise Hotel, an Israeli-owned resort in Mombasa, was car-bombed, resulting in the death of thirteen people. Two surface-to-air missiles were also fired at an Israeli-owned plane. Luckily, the Strela 2 missiles missed their targets. The assailants fled the scene, leaving behind one missile launcher and two missile casings. A month later, the super-popular Tembo Disco in Mombasa (North Coast) was set on fire by suspected arsonists. The European-owned, makuti-roofed, Tembo Disco, which recently closed down, was the region’s biggest entertainment joint. Also known as the ‘House of Music’, it had an open-air disco with a capacity of three thousand, two barbeque restaurants, a billiard lounge, a beer garden, a GOGO (exotic dancers) bar and guest rooms. It was popular with both locals and tourists – especially Germans. At the height of its popularity, it would host up to three thousand pleasure seekers in a single night! Entrance was free for ladies before midnight. Its fortunes began to dwindle as numerous little pubs mushroomed all over the Coast, offering cheap beer and other incentives. The increased popularity of villas and cottages as entertainment venues also took market share from the discotheques.
A Strela 2 missile plus launcher  

On the morning of Thursday, 7th July 2005, three co-ordinated bombs went off in the famous London Underground (a mass-transit railway system), causing widespread damage and panic in the city. About an hour later, another bomb went off; this time on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square. Total body count: 56, including the four suicide bombers (Hasib Hussain, Mohammad Sidique Khan, Germaine Lindsay and Shehzad Tanweer). Injured persons were approximately 700.

The 2007/2008 post-election violence was yet another blow to Kenya’s entertainment industry. The December holidays, coupled with New Year celebrations, are traditionally the most profitable periods for local entertainment acts. The outbreak of violence following the disputed 2007 election exercise caused numerous events to be cancelled and much revenue lost. Pubs, supermarkets and other businesses were also destroyed by protestors, especially in Mombasa and Kisumu, where property worth untold millions was either destroyed or looted.

Showbiz began to lose its lustre. The famous Mamba International Discotheque shut down (and has now been taken over by a new proprietor who is turning it into the country’s first-ever ‘gospel disco’!) In its heyday, the Mamba Disco had hosted such entertainers as Koffi Olomide, General Defao, Fally Ipupa and the legendary Kanda Bongoman. Announcing the closure of the joint, Tembo Investment Managing Director Walter Reif, posted the following message on Facebook:

Dear friends of TEMBO DISCO.
The Final Curtain has fallen and an era in Entertainment History has come to an end.
Those who attended the last party on Saturday experienced both .... a phantastic Dance Party and a very emotional Kwa Heri to Tembo Disco!
I was touched down deep inside my heart to see how many of the people attending showed their deepest emotions and sadness about the closing of Tembo.
Many tears were shed that evening by Friends of Tembo, Tembo Staff, Tembo Members and Tembo Patrons.
I would like to again thank You All for Your support throughout the last 16 years.
i will keep you updated about any further developments about a new place and hopefully very soon we can all meet again in a NEW TEMBO.
Until then LOLLIPOP MTWAPA remains in full operation ... 7 days a week from 9pm.
ASANTE SANA AND GOD BLESS
Walter L. Reif

Full Moon Night Club also got a total eclipse, deflating the hearts of many Diani-area pleasure seekers. It had entertained club-goers with many creative concepts, including Bikini Wrestling, Arm-Wrestling Contests, Beauty and the Beast Contests and Halloween Parties. Kenyan entertainers that performed at the joint include Wyre, Jaguar, Jua Cali and DJ Bunduki. The last ‘tweet’ sent from their Twitter account (@FullMoonDiani) on 12th August 2011 was about their ‘Bendover VS Get Down - G-String Edition’ event which was slated for 13th August 2011.
FEAR FACTOR: Writer Alex Nderitu surveys a nightclub at the height of the Al-Shabaab insurgency

As the new millennium wore on, international acts of terrorism continued sporadically, mostly in war zones like Iraq and Somalia. During the 2010 World Cup Finals, two bombs went off in clubs in Uganda as fans were watching the drama-filled confrontation between Spain and the Netherlands. One bomb explosion took place at a rugby club and the other at an Ethiopian restaurant. Together, the attacks took 76 lives. An unexploded suicide vest was discovered at a nearby disco, meaning that a third attack had been planned. Investigators believed that the attacks were carried out by the Al-Shabaab Somalia militant group which was said to have links with al-Qaeda. Al-Shabaab also started making sporadic attacks inside Kenya, mostly around the common border with Somalia. Their repeated attacks and kidnappings put a serious dent in the tourism sector and became a top-priority national security issue. As the one-time Internal Security Minister John Michuki once said, ‘If you rattle a snake, you should be ready to be bitten (by it).’ The Al-Shabaab militants, who would later merge with al-Qaeda to strengthen their outfit, were ‘rattling’ the Kenyan military machine and it was just a matter of time before the Kenya Defence Forces struck back.

On 11th September 2011, British tourists Judith Tebbutt and her husband of 26 years, David Tebbutt, were attacked by Somali pirates shortly after they arrived at the secluded Kiwayu Safari Village resort, not far from the border. The attackers knocked her unconscious with the butt of a rifle. Her husband tried to fight off the attackers and was shot dead. Judith Tebbutt was loaded onto a motorboat and whisked away. The abductors released her seven months later, after her family paid a ransom.

On 1st October 2011, a pocket of Somali gunmen in a speedboat beached on the shores on Manda island and abducted a disabled Frenchwoman named Marie Dedieu. The nocturnal attack caused a fracas, with dogs started barking and people shouting. Two Kenyan coastguard vessels and a police chopper pursued the abductors and there was an exchange of fire but the villains managed to sneak back into Somalia with the victim.  A wheelchair-bound cancer survivor, Marie Dedieu, aged 66, died in captivity.

A few weeks later, Somali gunmen kidnapped two female Spanish aid workers and shot their driver at Dabaab refugee camp in northern Kenya. The abductees were working for M√©decins sans Fronti√®res which was assisting the refugees in the sprawling camp – the world’s largest. They were driven towards Somalia in a four-wheel drive vehicle.

On 16th October 2011, Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) crossed the border into Somalia in search of Al-Shabaab militants. It was dubbed ‘Operation Linda Nchi’ and had the backing of the Somali Transition Government who had also been harassed by the Islamist terrorist group. From the start, it was obvious that the Al-Shabaab militant group was no match for an entire country’s military might – what with Kenya’s ground, air and water capabilities – but in a war situation, you never underestimate your enemy. So when the rag-tag Al-Shabaab threatened to attack Nairobi’s skyscrapers, the threat was taken seriously but the military and police. Entering city buildings – be they office blocks, hotels, colleges or entertainment spots - became a nightmare. Often, you would be required to show your ID before entering an office block. Hand-held scanners became ubiquitous, often wielded by uniformed guards. There were so many scanners in the city that you could hear them pinging as you walked down the street. You had to be scanned just to enter a pizza place and even some matatus, such as the minibuses plying the South ‘B’ route. In clubs and discos, the old-fashioned ‘tero’ was no longer enough – you had to submit yourself to a body scan and your luggage to a minute examination before you enter the heng. You couldn’t even go through a building like the Hilton Hotel or Nakumatt Lifestyle as a shortcut without being screened. Many buildings in Nairobi city are also now equipped with CCTV cameras. Banks, ATMs, supermarkets and forex bureaus embraced closed-circuit television decades ago but now many retail shops, MPESA joints, cyber cafes, hotels and office buildings are using electronic surveillance. Some of them are courteous enough to let you know that you are being watched, with such notices as ‘THIS PROPERTY IS UNDER 24hr SURVEILLENCE’ and ‘SMILE, YOU’RE ON CCTV’ prominently displayed. But most don’t inform you – you just look up to see a camera looking back at you; or a black glass orb, like half an eggplant, hanging above the entrance to a lift. According to the website of ASIS Security Services - a Kenyan company that provides hand-held metal Detectors, CCTV Systems and other security equipment – their main clients are property managers, matatu saccos and institutions.

Nairobi Bus station where some mini-buses screen passengers before they board

As KDF’s military campaign proceeded, grenade attacks took place in Nairobi, Coast and North Eastern Kenya in retaliation.

On 24th October 2011, a Russian-made F1 grenade went off at the popular ‘Mwauras’ disco in Nairobi. 14 revellers were injured in the blast. It was followed by a second attack at a bus stop which killed one commuter and injured eight others. Police apprehended a suspect who later pleaded guilty to both attacks. He also confessed to being a member of the dreaded Al-Shabaab terrorist group. Responding to the attack, provincial police boss Anthony Kibuchi urged Kenyans to be vigilant and co-operate with the police in order to help curb such incidents.

On 16th May 2012, a gang of attackers tried to gain entry into club in Mombasa. When they realized that they couldn’t get past the security guards without being screened, they lobbed grenades at the entrance of the establishment and fled, one of them dropping a firearm in the process. The grenades killed a female bouncer and injured five other people.

RISKY BUSINESS: A matatu picks up passengers in a crowded street at night

In what was seen as an attempt to trigger a religious war, grenade attacks were also carried out against Catholic and African Inland churches in Garissa, not far from the Somali border. The attacks killed 17 people and injured over 60 others.

On 12th July 2012, Kenyan football lovers stayed away from clubs and other entertainment spots for the Euro 2012 finals, between Spain and Italy, for fear of explosions. Sport fans have over the past decade formed a culture of patronizing DSTV-subscribed clubs to watch big games in a community atmosphere.
Kencom bus station in central Nairobi

On August 28th 2012, 4 people were killed in separate attacks in Eastleigh. Eastleigh township is jocularly referred to as ‘Little Mogadishu’ for its high density of Somali immigrants.

On October 23rd 2012, 1 person was killed and 29 others were wounded when a grenade was lobbed at a Nairobi bus station at 8.00 PM in the night. Earlier the same day another grenade attack at a pub injured fourteen people. Survivors told of panic in the aftermath of the blasts.
A typical grenade

In view of the nationwide insecurity, Coast Matatu Owners Association boss Ben Murithi proposed that matatus should be equipped with metal detectors and to screen passengers. However, Matatu Welfare Association national secretary-general, Sammy Gitau, did not see this as a practical, long-term, solution because the cost of the devices is prohibitive to thousands of matatu owners. This was not the first time a proposal to increase matatu security had received mixed reactions. A couple of years ago, some stakeholders mooted the idea of photographing matatu passengers at the beginning of journeys so that if the vehicle was carjacked later, the survivors could point out which ‘passengers’ turned out to be ‘majambazi’. The problem with this plan was that matatus (especially in Nairobi) make numerous small stops to pick and drop passengers. You would have to be photographing people every few minutes, all day long.

KDF eventually routed the Al-Shabaab insurgents and seized control of their bastions, including the port city of Kismayu which was their final stronghold. As Kenyans began to celebrate their victory over the enemy, a child was killed in an explosion at St Polycarp ACK Church, along Juja Road. Instead of reducing, the fear of terror attacks actually increased! Al-Shabaab may have lost the battle, but they appeared determined to win the war. Following the unexpected attack, the police issued a controversial statement to the effect that landlords and hotel owners would be held responsible for any explosives or similar devices found on their premises. Hotels, motels and lodgings were to demand identification and inquire the mission of their lodgers. It was a poor decision by the police force as it appeared as admission that they were incapable of containing the Al-Shabaab threat and were now transferring the responsibility to civilians. Did they expect landlords to start making unexpected visits to their tenants, demanding to be shown every nook and cranny of their houses? Do landlords and hoteliers have any training or experience in law enforcement or security matters? Even if a stranger goes to a lodging or hotel with bad intentions, he’s not going to tell the desk clerk what those intentions are, so it would be futile for the desk clerk to ask. In any case, lodgings in Kenya are better known for clandestine sexual escapades than for terrorist activity, which would make motel, hotel and lodging owners uneasy about interrogating would-be lodgers. Picture, if you will, a drunken middle-aged man staggering up to a desk clerk at a downtown motel with his arm draped over an equally drunk miniskirt-clad twenty-something girl. The desk clerk opens his admissions book, grabs a biro pen and says, ‘May I inquire as to why you need a room?’ The drunk man stares at the clerk through an alcoholic haze, pulls his date closer into his body, and says, ‘What? Isn’t that obvious?’ The clerk politely defends himself by saying, ‘We are required to ask, Sir…It’s this terrorism thing.’ The customer smiles and says, ‘Well, I intend ‘‘fire some shots’’…and you might even hear some screaming…but believe me, I’m no terrorist!’

A after a decent interval, following Kenya’s crushing victory, the sporadic attacks resumed. On Sunday, 4th November 2012, a grenade went off in Garissa, killing an Administration Police officer.

On Tuesday, 6th November 2012, an improvised explosive device detonated in Nairobi’s crowded Eastleigh area, injuring 2 people and shattering the windows of a nearby matatu. The explosion was suspected to be the work of Al-Shabaab although no group has so far claimed responsibility.
Eastleigh township, where a series of explosions have taken place


In the bright, sunny, afternoon of November 18th 2012, a bomb ripped through a 25-seater matatu in Eastleigh, killing 7 people and injuring 29 others. A man of Somali origin who had disembarked the mini-bus just moments before the explosion was beaten to death by area residents. The matatu was reduced to a shell.

On January 16th 2013, 5 people were killed my militants in a restaurant in Garissa.

On April 18th 2013, another 6 people were shot dead in Kwa Chege hotel in Garissa.

And then on 21st September 2013, a bright Saturday afternoon, the prestigious Westgate mall in Westlands was stormed by well-armed and well-prepared Al-Qaeda-linked militants, who not only gunned down panicked shoppers but also held many others hostage inside the large building. This lead to a four-day gunfight that with Kenyan security forces, during which pistols, rifles, grenades and bazookas came into play. Eventually, the militants were captured or killed but the damage was unparalleled in recent memory. The terrorists had managed to kill over 60 people and injure over 170 others. Some have described this as incident as ‘Kenya’s 9/11’.


‘Panic! At The Disco’ is the name of an American rock band but in Kenya, that term is better suited to the issue of insecurity. As the sunlight dims on any given Friday, Saturday or Sunday evening, colourfully-dressed youths still gather in large numbers outside popular hangouts like Galileo Xtreme, Florida 2000 and Klub Bettyz, waiting to be screened so that they can gain the interior. But one can’t help think that under their youthful exuberance, under their visceral need to experience pleasure, under their determined faces and raging hormones, there lurks a fear.