As a three-day period of national mourning ends in Kenya for the massacre of nearly 150 students at a university in the country’s east, a social media campaign has coalesced around the mounting outrage and grief to commemorate the individual victims.
People are using the hashtag #147notjustanumber #theyhavenames to join the discussion on social media about the massacre in Kenya. The death toll has since risen to 148. The students were murdered when four gunman from the Islamist militant group al-Shabab, stormed Garissa University College last Thursday. They were seeking out and killing the Christian students. Here is the university’s website.
I ask myself how the world has come to this? The campaign to humanize the victims is extremely potent. It’s a powerful effort, making it all too real for those outside Kenya to relate to the horror that occurred on its soil. Looking at the photos of the victims, I feel physically sick. They were innocent, helpless + killed at the whim of a militant group.
Beatrice Njeri Thinwa, 20, died in Garissa. She hoped to get a phd, loved taking pictures & “she loved Kenny Rogers” pic.twitter.com/QhQZIep0aq
— Edith Honan (@edithhonan) April 7, 2015
RIP Laban Kumba, a talented student leader. A brave man, he actually fought with the terrorists! #147notjustanumber pic.twitter.com/pKoEas6nxJ — Tom Vandenbosch (@TVandenbosch) April 8, 2015
#147notjustanumber She has a name: Macline Ubue, she is not just a number pic.twitter.com/zsnUIVIhSv
— Mungai Andrew Gichuh (@Andychuho) April 6, 2015
LRT Angela Kimata was a friend, one of the most beautiful humans you’ll ever meet. R.I.P Kajojo, #147NotJustANumber pic.twitter.com/W5GzA0Mkar — feathers and hearts (@Mekatilili_) April 5, 2015
1) @Maskani254: Miss Garissa University Mary Muchiri Shee #147notjustanumber pic.twitter.com/7CSwOox1l0”
— Laurence Parisot (@LaurenceParisot) April 5, 2015
RIP Elizabeth Nyangarora. Graduated in 2012 from St Andrews Kanga Girls High. #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames pic.twitter.com/CPVPzNw0RB — Tom Vandenbosch (@TVandenbosch) April 5, 2015
Mary Muchiri Shee, Miss Garissa University #147notjustanumber We will name them one by one. pic.twitter.com/WuUBOkBsye
— Tom Vandenbosch (@TVandenbosch) April 5, 2015
This is Tobias, he died in #GarissaAttack; to us he’s not a number, he’s a son, bro, friend. #147notJustANumber pic.twitter.com/dUSLXnCv9V — Mr. B (@Benogola) April 5, 2015
Kenyans living in Dubai light a candle to honor students who lost their lives in #GarissaAttack#147notjustanumberpic.twitter.com/iaCaWz9FG9
— Ni Sisi! (@nisisikenya) April 9, 2015
Will Rhodes Must Fall Turn Fatal?
I’m writing from the South African banks of #RhodesMustFall, where a well-intentioned protest started turning ugly this week. My view of the “revolution” (as it has been labeled by Twitter activists) has been tainted. With a statue in Uitenhage being set on fire, a monument in Pretoria being defaced + then the horse memorial in Port Elizabeth being vandalized by rebels, I dare say a similar horror could be broadcasting out from our soil next.
#RhodesMustFall is a story I’ve been following closely. It had its roots on a university campus in Cape Town where a group of students called for the removal of a colonial statue. But it’s taking an unexpected turn – militant, criminal action by politically-charged groups on the streets of the ‘real world’ off tertiary grounds.
Who was Cecil John Rhodes?
Cecil John Rhodes was an English businessman + financier who founded the modern diamond industry + controlled the British South Africa Company, which acquired Rhodesia + Zambia as British territories. Unfortunately, he did so through the gross intimidation + oppression of black people.
History has revealed Rhodes as power-hungry and greedy, using mercenaries and gangs to evict people from their land down the barrel of a gun. If that didn’t work, there was always bribery and corruption. When he died in 1902, Rhodes was one of the world’s wealthiest men. He had a vast mining empire and had seized more than 8.8 million square kilometres of land through the annexation of present-day Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia. The students contend the statue represents everything Rhodes stood for: racism, plunder, white supremacy, colonialism, pillaging, dispossession and the oppression of black people.
I always supported the removal of the statue from the UCT grounds to a more appropriate place, such as a museum or dedicated park. But I never supported the violence. I knew it would have repurcussions for the less-educated who simply see pictures of black students rallying + defacing buildings on campus in their “campaign”, then perceive it as a purely black vs. white issue. As Steve Hofmeyer sums up, illiteracy is to blame. According to UNICEF, we have 5 million illiterate people in South Africa. We (the literate; educated) take for granted our ability to research, understand + educate ourselves with the deeper topic at hand; the reason they are protesting. We have the luxury of investigating the broader concern, reading up on history + reasonably looking at both sides of a very complex debate. But the majority walking the streets who have access to Twitter or Facebook don’t have such inclinations. They just see photos, read militant words + sum up such a complex issue to its basal form of “black vs. white”. With our already sensitive history, this hasty “revolution” was a dangerous + irresponsible call for the group who started this at UCT. Is murder on our cards next as a debate about colonialism/imperialism + *institutional racism* turns into just an ugly race war? Xolela Mangcu sums it up nicely in his article: My biggest fear is that we will find ourselves in a racial civil war.
What the conversation is looking like on Twitter
My Garden Gnomes aren’t taking any chances! #RhodesHasFallen #Statues #EFF pic.twitter.com/DOYYUsY7cg — Darren Simpson (@WhackheadS) April 9, 2015
So the whole #RhodesMustFall battle has been won. Yay. Now what? Can we please work on education & acknowledge unconscious biases? — Sunil Osman (@SunilOsman) April 9, 2015
For better or worse, this guy’s part of our history. Removing him won’t undo the damage of the past. #RhodesMustFall pic.twitter.com/tuDO5sgLEa — Monique Broumels (@Monbonne) April 9, 2015
[LATER @ 6:55] We are joined by the head of @FilmandMediaUCT, Prof @hwasser on #RhodesMustFall‘s media response. pic.twitter.com/cDqRsTMAbI — CapeTalk (@CapeTalk567) April 9, 2015
Amazing how people get fired up over a statue – that same energy should be used to fight poverty, unemployment & corruption. #RhodesMustFall — Leandri JansevVuuren (@Lean3Jvv) April 8, 2015
@helenzille @michaelcardo @Politicsweb #RhodesMustFall, liberals and the white privilege brigade: @Politicsweb:http://t.co/KL7wD7xTJ4
— Gillian Schutte (@GillianSchutte) April 1, 2015
Anyone that believes #RhodesHasFallen is a step towards transformation is deluded. It’s creating more divides. — blue-genie (@jhb_flash) April 9, 2015
Now that #RhodesHasFallen may we use the same energy to remember kids still being taught in ramshackle mud huts. pic.twitter.com/AjLMuiP9i7
— EducationAmbassadors (@Edu_Ambassadors) April 9, 2015
Nobody hated Rhodes more than Paul Kruger, and now his statue is defaced as under the banner of #RhodesMustFall — Sarah Britten (@Anatinus) April 6, 2015