By: Face2face Africa
Photo credit: AFP
For too many people when you talk of Osama bin Laden, the immediate memory is that of 9/11; but for the people in East Africa, they recall the events of August 7, 1998. On this day (August 7), between 10:30 am and 10:40 am local time (3:30–3:40 am Eastern Time), the US embassies in Dares Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya were attacked by suicide bombers. In Dar es Salaam, about 11 people were killed and 85 were wounded; in Nairobi, approximately 212 were killed wounding 4000.
Among the dead were 12 Americans, and the remaining were civilians of the two countries with different religious beliefs.
The aftermath was a difficult period for the families and friends of the victims and survivors as well as the nations at large. There were also people who were arrested as part of the investigation, although not all of them were involved. All these added to the negative impacts of the terrorist attacks on innocent people who just hours prior had left their homes with the hopes of returning to see their loved ones in the evening.
Following the news of Osama bin Laden’s death, people in East Africa had mixed reactions. Douglas Sidialo, who lost his vision during the 1998 attacks, said Monday was a day to remember. According to the AP Television News, Mr. Sidialo said “[this] is a day of great honor to the survivors and victims of terrorism in the world.” He added that it was “a day to remember [for] those whose lives were changed forever. A day of great relief to us victims and survivors to see that bin Laden has been killed.”
President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya said his killing was an act of justice to those Kenyans who lost lives in the 1998 attacks. While the president of Tanzania said, “no one shall ever wish the other death but you cannot deny that the news of Osama’s killing will be of much relief to many who lost their loved ones that year (1998)."
The important thing to note is that terrorism has nothing to do with a particular religion; it is an ideology that certain people try to associate with religion for their own benefit. The death of Bin Laden does not mean the death of an ideology. It should mark the beginning for an era where we need to fight the root cause of the ideology and bring all the people to justice. As one of the people who has friends who lost their family members in the 1998 attacks I am happy for them, however, I would suggest that we be watchful of our tone (or spirit—is that too BIBLICAL for you?) when we ‘celebrate’ Osama’s death.
And while some reveled in his death, others, however, wanted him captured alive and brought to justice and to be held accountable for his charges in the court of law. This is because the United States has been championing Human Rights. [Maybe a transition here? ] According to some news sources, they suggest that killing him should have been the last resort and not the primary target.
Despite the casualties that they suffered as a result of Bin Laden his terrorist network, many were not very impressed with those who took to the streets to celebrate his death. It would have been better to go to places like the Pentagon, Ground Zero, and the areas where other attacks were carried out and reflect with the victims and survivors.
“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice the death one. Not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate only multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.