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Thursday, August 09, 2007

are Africans not human?

Tuesday was the 9th Anniversary of the 1998 bomb blasts (attributed to Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden) at the US Embassy in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam.

Below is the speech made by Naomi Kerongo, Chair of the Bomb Blast Welfare Society, at the August 7th Memorial Park, Nairobi.

Friends, fellow survivors of the 7th August bomb blast, families of victims, ladies and gentlemen:

Nine years ago, our world as we knew it was changed forever. Statistics indicate that on that day, 250 Kenyans had their lives abruptly cut short and 5000 others were injured. But statistics do not tell the real story.

For statistics cannot tell of the weary years and the silent tears that have been our lot since 10.30 a.m. that fateful Friday morning. Statistics cannot recount the pain and frustration of those who were blinded and crippled by random violence unleashed upon unsuspecting, defenseless people; statistics cannot speak of the cry of the orphan or the despair of the fatherless; statistics cannot paint an accurate picture of all those rendered destitute, reduced to hobbling from office to office begging for alms if only to be able to meet their ever increasing medical costs. We have become Kenya’s unofficial 43rd tribe made up of those who bear the scars of August 7th 1998.

Many times, each one of us has entertained a vain wish that it were possible to reverse the time to August 6th 1998. For then we would have taken the day off like so many workers at the World Trade Centre are alleged to have done on September 11th 2001. We are all proudly Kenya, but there are days we wish we were Americans, for then we would have been fully compensated as were our American counterparts were, following the bomb blast. Sometimes we even wish we were made of steel, glass and concrete like the Cooperative Building which, alongside others that were damaged by the blast, were fully compensated while human beings were treated like collateral damage and left to suffer and ultimately die from the injuries they suffered.

For the last nine years, we have been demanding compensation from the American government. We have been told that America cannot compensate us because it too was a victim and that they will only pay compensation once the alleged mastermind of this crime, one Osama bin Laden, is apprehended, brought to justice and his assets seized. But our position today remains the same as it has always been: It is made up of three simple points:

* America cannot continue to play the victim. The US has not been targeted by alleged terrorists for nothing. Their policies around the world make them a target of terrorism; the American people directly benefit from those policies, and when things go wrong, as they so obviously did that Friday morning, the celebrated super power must pick up the pieces. With great power must come great responsibility, and Americans have dismally failed to take that responsibility. But we shall not tire to remind them to do the right thing and fully compensate those who were killed or injured by the bomb.
* Ambassador Prudence Bushnell, who was the Chief of Mission at the time of the blast, is on record as having sent several desperate requests to the State Department to urgently relocate the embassy as it was in danger of being targeted. Locating a US embassy in a busy intersection in the Central Business District, next to a busy bus stop was clearly negligent. The US government knew this prior to the attack. But they chose to save money and ended up exposing innocent Kenyans to grave danger. They must take responsibility and compensate fully all those who were killed or injured as a result of their culpable negligence.
* The Americans who were killed or injured in the 1998 attacks and the subsequent attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 were fully compensated for their loss. Several questions then need to be asked: are Africans not human? Do we not cry when we are hurt; do we not bleed when we are cut? Or are we the children of a lesser god?

The Kenyan government too cannot escape censure. For nine years they have turned a blind eye to the suffering of their own people. Two years ago, we staged a sit-in in this park for 124 days seeking to draw the attention of the world to our plight. Our own government ignored us. It refused even to forward a petition signed by over 3000 Kenyans to the American government to demand compensation.

During the sit in, the management of this park unleashed the most inhuman violence on us bringing in dogs to urinate on us and lick our wounds and turning off water sources in order to force us out of the park. Those who died and whose names are engraved on this wall stood as silent witnesses to this cruelty on helpless people who had already suffered so long. Our departed brothers and sisters must have wept in their graves. Our government refused to respond to our pleas for protection.

But we shall not relent. We shall continue to demand our rights whether our government stands with us or chooses to turn a blind eye to our sufferings. We believe that ultimately, the truth will triumph and even if we die, our children shall continue with the struggle, and their children after them, until these governments fully account for their actions and fully compensate for the dead and injured in the same way they compensated ruined businesses and damaged buildings.

In the meantime, we will continue our struggle. We recently registered the 7th August Bomb Blast Welfare Society which will act as a focal point for our advocacy. Once established, in addition to continuing to demand for compensation, the society shall coordinate activities for bomb blast survivors and their supporters, including support group initiatives, fundraising for medical and psychosocial activities, other forms of rehabilitation, networking with other victim groups around the world and other forms of support for survivors and victims families.

We also aim to be wounded healers and shall aim to be instruments of peace in a world that is so full of hatred, jealousy and suspicion.

Finally, we would like to thank all the well – wishers who have stood with us throughout our trials over the last nine years. We will continue to count on your goodwill as we work together to build a world where there is justice, peace and prosperity for all peoples and where no group shall dominate another, and no nation shall feel the necessity of using violence to achieve political ends.

God bless Kenya, God bless Africa.

Thank you.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a true speech. Let the Americans compensate this poor Africans.

8/15/2007 1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anyango said...

Poor Africans? there's nothing impoverishing about demanding for your rights!

American leadership should realise that they are mainly marginalized for their capitalist greed and isolationist policies that refuse to acknowledge that they are a part of a bigger whole. The fact remains that Kenya, has never had and does not have connections to AL-queda, the ONLY reason that some 250 Kenyans died and thousands of others suffered in that attack was because of America. You do not tell your neighbour you're not liable for damages when an attack intended for you injures them - if you 'rattle' a beehive and an innocent bystander oblivious of your actions gets stung - you and the bee are equally guilty!

8/16/2007 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Earth Taremor

Let me ask. Should we first find out, what Osama and the USA are fighting for?

Who is, according to your own view in the wrong or in the right.

Is it right, that the USA should approach the whole world, asking the various countries to sign an Anti-Terror Bill Agreement. So that they obtain “a card blanche” to conduct their own fights (the various countries not knowing why) and later to abandon their responsibility for what ever outcome, since nations have signed the agreement and even worse, leaving them with the feelings, that it is their own fault. E.g. Bomb Blast 1998 in Kenya. What have we got to do with it:

Should we continue to allow the USA to "dance on our noses", meaning they take us for fools!

Besides, what business do we Kenyans have with Mr. Osama bin Laden. Any agreement I do not know of? Please fellow Kenyans advise.

Stray bullet. Do I get it right, that the causing party is responsible for the damage.?
The question remains, whether the Terrorist creates out of “fun” or out of a reason. So far we have only heard of the USA that they are the “innocents” and that the terrorist are the bad boys. All sound too much of an Italian spaghetti western; the good, the bad and the ugly.

Have we heard the motives of the attacking party? Once established, we could also judge about the party to carry the responsibility of the outcome, not to mention the mess.

Is it true, that there are human beings, living for nothing better than to plant bombs, killing innocent people (people who have nothing in common with), without reason.
What the hell has our Government done to Osama? I believe, nothing.

So it should be clear, that the causing party is to be held responsible for the damage caused in our country, be it bricks (businesses being re-established) or be it human beings (more important) like in the 9/11 of World Trade Centre.

Did any affected person or institution go un-compensated in the USA.
For sure not. Why does USA not use the same ruler, regarding us Kenyans.
Maybe cause they regard us as “lesser children of God”

Finally, should we Kenyans not rather call upon the UN to cater for peace talk agreements than for anti terror bill signature. All those funds would be better invested than the actual ongoing meetings throughout this globe.

May God forgive the USA for such an inadequate use of ruler.
Yours, earth tremor

9/04/2007 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is very shameful to you Americans that whit all this preaching of Human rights you are the most abuser.

Pay these Kenyans or God can be annoyed with you. Close your big mouth and act. Shame on you when you con the poor people for your greed.

9/10/2007 9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is very shameful to you Americans that whit all this preaching of Human rights you are the most abuser.

Pay these Kenyans or God can be annoyed with you. Close your big mouth and act. Shame on you when you con the poor people for your greed.

9/10/2007 9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The world is shocked that the US America has never compensated the Kenyan Africans. Then why does the US cheat the world that you did enough when you ignored them and left them to die.
Surely where is Justice? How can there be peace without Justice? Sorry if this is the meaning of supper power. Dont use power to opress the poor Africans.

9/10/2007 9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

please let the human rights bodies and lawyers help the bomb victims of kenya be compensated by America. America why do you play double standards? The kenyans were injured because of you!!!America act, the world is watching you on this case. You cant escape history.

9/23/2007 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi everybody! Does the world know that history will judge the U.S for ignoring this poor people? It is unfair how the U.S having been the target is failing to support the victims who suffered due to the U.S presence in Nairobi's City center, the central business district.

9/29/2007 2:53 PM  

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