By Esther Essie Wambui
Kenyans living in Ontario gathered in Toronto on Sunday April 12 to mourn the 148 people killed when al-Shabab terrorists attacked Garissa University 10 days ago.
The interfaith ecumenical prayers service held at the Consolota Missionary Centre, paid tribute to both the dead and injured victims of the attack and said prayers for their families.
In attendance was the new Kenya High Commissioner to Canada and Cuba, ambassador John Lepi Lanyasunya, who also took the opportunity to introduce himself to the Kenyan community.
Addressing the congregation, Amb. Lanyasunya underscored that Kenya has been and would continue to be a beacon of peace for the region.
He pointed out that by attacking Kenya, al-Shabab intended among other intentions to divide Kenyans. “By isolating and killing Christians, they want to sow seeds of discord among various faiths.” He said.
Emphasizing that the constitution of Kenya guaranteed freedom of worship for every citizen, the Ambassador urged Kenyans to not fall into the trap of division, but instead stand together irrespective of their religion, to defend this freedom.
While noting that Kenya had developed into a medium economy country, Amb. Lanyasunya impressed that by attacking Kenya, al-Shabab was also aiming to cause economic difficulty for the country. Pointing at various travel advisories issued against Kenya by certain countries, he pleaded with Kenyans to repossess the economic narrative of their country.
“Kenya is a peaceful, united vibrant county,” he said. “an open economy where freedom of speech, religion and expression is allowed for all.”
Afterwards, East African regional leaders joined in a planting of seeds ceremony symbolizing Kenya’s enduring spirit. This was done alongside the calling out of the names of all identified victims.
An excerpt from the poem Grass will grow by Kenyan Poet Jonathan Kariara was recited.
Chairman of the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution [CIC] Charles Nyachae also attended the ceremony.
Mr. Nyachae, who happened to be in North America when the attack in Garissa took place, urged Kenyans to individually and collectively help root out terrorists from their communities.
“Let each one of us be able to say that we have done our part.” He implored.
The service was organized by Kenyan community and religious leaders in Ontario.
Here is the poem Grass will grow by Kenyan Poet Jonathan Kariara [1935-1993]
If you should take my child Lord
Give my hands strength to dig his grave
cover him with earth
Lord send a little rain
For grass will grow
If my house should burn down
So that the ashes sting the nostrils
Making the eyes weep
Then Lord send a little rain
For grass will grow
But Lord do not send me
I ask for tears
Do not send me moon hard madness
To lodge snug in my skull
I would you sent me hordes of horses
But do not break
The yolk of the moon on me.