Destabilized Somalia then sends hundreds of thousands of refugees to all corners of the world, but mainly across the border to Kenya. I wrote and directed a feature-length documentary film “One Flew Over Dadaab”, addressing the plight of people in the largest refugee camp on earth (two years ago hosting over 500,000 people living there, now much more), where an entire young generation of refugees never saw anything else other than desert sand, dry bushes and barbed wire.
In Dadaab and elsewhere, I was told countless stories about the brutality of the Kenyan forces in Somalia. But there is no access to Jubba Land now; no way to verify reports and eyewitness accounts. The entire area is sealed off.
Brutality without borders
All this naturally does not justify the attacks, the brutality and savagery of the strike.
But it clearly illustrates that the entire area is sick, it is damaged, in agony.
People do not throw grenades at each other in a normal state of mind; they don’t do it out of happiness.
As I stood at the entrance to Westgate, on Sunday night, a Kenyan Indian man with bloodshot eyes was screaming at the soldiers:
“My wife is there, inside… And my 2-year-old son! My wife is probably dead! What have you been doing? Let me in! Let me go and find them!”
It was raining hard. The soldiers were trying to calm him down, but his desperation had no limits. Tears were rolling down his face, and at one point he broke free and in total despair he ran towards the Westgate and into the night.
The stories around the Westgate are heartrending.
The two days that I spent covering this conflict, there were loud explosions and gunfire, bullets flying, perhaps too near.
There was speculation as to whether the leader of the attack is that British woman, the so called “White Widow”, who lost her husband during the terrorist attack on the London underground.
Finally, today, on Tuesday, the Kenyan government announced that there is one British citizen and two American citizens participating in the attack.
And there has been countless speculation, and even confirmation that both the Israeli and the US forces are participating in the action to retake the mall.
There was also speculation about the number of fighters, about the number of Kenyan soldiers who have died (I was confidentially told that their number was six), about the hostages who died. Is the number 68 or 69? How many were injured, is it 200 or more?
And I keep thinking, standing in the rain as if waiting for something, or falling to the ground avoiding bullets… I am thinking: does it really matter? 68 or 69 or 75; are exact numbers what this is all about?
Nobody talks about the essence. What is happening to Somalia and what is happening to Kenya? Why is East and Central Africa once again screaming, and crushed by Western imperialism?
Nobody talks about the hundreds of thousands of those who have been dying in Somalia, about the millions of ruined lives. Nobody talks about close to 10 million who have already died in DR Congo. What role is Kenya playing in allowing the militarization of this part of the world, by so closely cooperating with the former colonial masters?