Monday morning, the 22nd of December 2015, a most beautiful thing happened. A group of Muslims riding in a bus in Kenya risked their lives against a terror group for their fellow Christians travelers. But please bear with me for a short introduction, a flashback, if you may.
About a year ago, November 2014, Al-Shabaab, the notorious terrorists based in Somalia, stopped a bus going to Nairobi from Mandera, a small town in North Eastern Kenya. They separated Muslim and Christian passengers and shot the Christians. 28 people lost their lives. Al-Shabaab is not at all foreign to the media thanks to the attack on a Nairobi shopping mall in 2013, and more recently, on the Garissa University. When unable to penetrate the larger cities, residents of the towns bordering Somalia become its ego-booster, as were the case of the bus attack. This group has carried out some of the most gruesome murders in Kenya’s history since the British Gulag. The bus attack incident not only caught the Kenyan media, but it also saw international media flooding to the capital, Nairobi, to narrate the story to viewers in the safety of their living rooms. Ambassadors and journalists confirmed that indeed Kenya was unsafe, a prime target for terrorists. Over and over, news channels repeated stories of previous terrorist incidents (a very different reaction than to the attacks in Paris). Worst of all, they created wide-spread fear of a country that was herself a victim of terror. And so, terrorists got the last word.
Despite the setbacks, Kenyans picked themselves up and moved on. The terrorists failed to divide them in the name of religion. Muslims, Hindus, traditionalist and Christians lived and worked together, side by side, as they always have.
But a year later, Kenya was to be hit again, hence this story. Early morning on Monday December 22nd, in an incident similar to that of November 2014, Al-Shabaab again stopped a bus to Mandera, and ordered Muslims to step aside, so they could kill the rest with no further consideration. But the Muslims refused. “You either kill us together or you leave us alone,” they said. Some gave the Christians their clothing, the hijab and the kanzu, the Christian women in jeans now resembled Muslim men, and would not be asked to recite from the Quran. The Muslims stood fast, willing to give their lives for the life of others. They were not from the Secret Service or SEALs, not even the Kenyan army. What they did was an act of pure kindness and courage. An act of selflessness – and expected neither medals nor recognition. They stood with their fellow Kenyans, even in the face of death.
As a Kenyan living in Denmark, BBC is a major source of international news, and this is where I first learned of this story. I could hardly wait to get home that evening to watch the coverage in the Danish TV (DR). News at 18:30, Nothing. I waited patiently for the 21:30 news but still not a mention. I found it hard to believe that such a story could go unreported. I wondered that if this had happened in a small town in Holland or Belgium, would it have gone unnoticed? Or if a group of Christians, or Buddhists, or even atheists, stood up against a terrorist group, would that have reached the news?
We all know that good news doesn’t sell, but if nothing else, is this not a great human interest story? We are happy to know how many teenagers cannot live without the social media, but where are the proportions? How did you miss a story such as this, a story that is – literally speaking – a matter of life and death. How did you miss it DR?