Human ugliness hit Kenya’s capital this week when terrorists stormed a hotel and office complex at 14 Riverside Drive.
After 19 hours, the grounds were declared safe again. But it isn’t business as usual since the attack left at least 21 people dead and dozens injured.
Many people especially those of us abroad, want to keep up with the happenings back home, scouring the internet for news from the source. Sadly, it is always the same story. Before assurances of safety for our families and friends, what we tend to see first are the terrible images of destruction, fear, terror and even death.
Foreign media, in our countries of residence are often the worst offender, callously publishing disturbing images of death with little or no warning. We sift through these images, terrified to come across a familiar face. We understand shock factor draws clicks but still … Where is respect for human dignity? Why is it so easy to “Otherize” Africa’s dead and injured?
I want to challenge us to action and continue the discussion on this. Since international media doesn’t really care what we Africans think and neither do they give a sense into portraying us positively, let us as Africans, Kenyans, Nairobians, or whichever city, grab this by the horns. No one other than us cares enough to show the beauty of our continent and its peoples. It’s up to us. We earnestly hope there would be no bad news, but this is life and there’s always next time. Use your cell phone to capture some beauty.
So, the next time something ugly happens or is perpetrated on us, let us balance the ugly with the good. Let us purposely highlight the goodness of our people. Let’s focus on how many risk their lives to save others. May we focus our camera lenses on the good, the positive, the hope and optimism.
The other side of the coin – positive images of the Riverside attack
Above all, while mourning lives lost and wishing survivors well, let us also publicly honour our heroes of the day. Let us celebrate all first responders. Our uniformed teams – Kenya Defence Forces, firemen and women, medics, ethical journalists who risk their lives to keep us informed, civilians who rush in to help and the hundreds of blood donors. Let us also thank an often forgotten group of men and women who during these tragic events dedicate their private resources to serve food and beverage to the emergency services personnel.
All these are honourable. Sharing their images will not only challenge how the world likes to portray Africa, but it will also help us with self love. When we share kindness and make it visible, it will go a long way in aiding our respect for each other and in advancing solidarity with one another.
Let us celebrate our unbroken, unbowed spirit for remaining strong despite numerous, frequent, natural and man-made challenges.
~ Essie for Wakenya Canada
Images © Various