To Be or Not To Be [A Kenyan Terrorist], That’s My Conundrum!

By Immanuel Lokwei,

Good tidings such as additional oil discoveries are welcome but the shadow of the ugly cloud, whose epicenter hovered over Westgate Mall several days ago, still lingers on. The event cannot be forgotten; the dent it has created on Kenya’s history should be kept visible for generations to come and even for our own benefit, we the bearers of this tragedy.

It is now 11:46 pm Wednesday night and while I write the first draft of this article I wonder whether I will live to write another article next week around this time.  The chain and the enormity of recent terrorists attacks mock life. My conscience is at war. Why is life subject to the whims of God knows who – why is it that my anonymous existence can be cut short anytime at will not even by a superior cosmic force but by a damn fellow man? Tomorrow as I shall trudge through some crowded streets of Kitale, I shall be the new agoraphobe in town for trivial shall my control over this mortal phobia be and thus shall its debilitating effect be on my being.

There is my paranoid conscience that I could easily censure for my (irrational?) fear. There are also al-shabaabs who might feel victors and gladly claim responsibility for instilling this fear in me. Whatever way I view the situation, human beings (my conscience and al-shabaab alike) seem to be absolved from any quilt and responsibility of all sorts of calamities that befall them. God’s craftiness in these calamities cannot be expunged though.

How? How, when religion is a major factor in these terrors! It is ridiculous that the terrified and the terrorist both invoke God’s name, the former in pleading for mercies and salvation from imminent death, the latter in executing “God’s will.” The same God is present in both individuals, truly omnipresent. There is a boomerang regardless of who casts it that keeps returning to God’s hand, the chief architect of the fateful and favorable design of life in the cosmos. As one of Hitler’s loyalist remarked in regard to the Nazi’s atrocities of which he took an enthusiastic part in “The buck stops with God.”

Unless one is willing to admit that God is an imperfect creator, there is perhaps no chance of reconciling the pious’ mantra about the sanctity of life and the problem of evil. If life is indeed sacred at least from God’s point of view, why then create it delicately and more terribly give another life the capacity to terminate another life? In view of the existent large-scale evil and almost the inseparable association of religion, God and violence, I must say I am afflicted by a phobia called “Theophobia” – the fear of God and everything that invokes his name.

Alas, the above argument is already flawed no sooner it attempts to take those baby steps. It is now apparent that I am talking of a God that I do not know ontologically and epistemically speaking. It is like I have been discussing in details quantum physics while lacking qualified understanding of what a quantum means or refers to. I bet I can talk of quantum theory better than what God means or is. Arguments should stick to what is empirically measurable and evident.

I will tell you what is unquestionable measurable and self-evident: TERROR! Who are the actors? Human beings. If God has also been an actor, I’ve never seen him since I do not know how he looks like. Perhaps God manifests in disguises. All in all my Theophobia is misplaced. God should be subtracted from human affairs, from human beings’ doings and undoing – the rest such as natural calamities should simply not disturb our cool. If only the terrorist had subtracted God in their agenda, perhaps “things could have been different” at Westgate Mall. My affliction now is rather Anthropophobia – the fear of everything that is or behaves like Homo sapiens.

Now what since this TERROR is absolutely man-made? How are we or should I like Hamlet asking in his soliloquy “take arms against the sea of trouble” [created by men] and “by opposing end them?” Some people argue that we must not compromise with terrorists. Whatever tactics they employ in scaring and eliminating us, we must employ superior ones in not only combating their evil but similarly eradicating them completely. If they bring candle fire, we should return wood-fire and if wood-fire, then electric fire and so the vicious circle goes on. In short though they (the terrorists) think they are the TERROR, but they’ve not felt our sting yet. What our fellow colleagues recommend is that we ourselves should be the terrorists’ terrorists. And the principle of self-preservation shall justify our retaliations.

About this I will leave it to your judgment. I’d rather stick to my phobias and occasionally let my conscience be comforted by outdated clichés like Eric Hoffer’s “There seems to be a thin line between [the] violent, extreme nationalism and treason.” But for how long? That is the question!

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