A Facebook post by Cyrus Mutuku, a Garissa University College attack victim, on his page in February 2nd, 2015 reads in part, “When a teacher is not comfortable with their work station, simple logic will tell you that, if coerced to stay in that same environment, they will not give their best to the student.”(sic)
Mutuku’s post was perhaps, triggered by government’s insistence that teachers working in the North Eastern region should go back to their work stations despite the killing of 28 of their colleagues in December by Ashaabab. The teachers who were traveling from Mandera for the Christmas holidays were killed when terrorists waylaid the Nairobi bound bus and shot dead non Muslim passengers, majority being teachers.
Another attack by the Somali based militia group 10 days later in which 36 quarry laborers were massacred in the same region further aggravated the appalling insecurity situation. Due to the cold-blooded attacks, the teachers feared for their lives and requested the government to transfer them to safer areas.
Although the teachers’ cause seemed justified, their pleas landed on deaf ears forcing them to camp at the Kenya National Union of Teachers’ (KNUT) head office in Nairobi for more than two months to push for their transfers.
It’s the government’s handling of the teachers’ requests that seemed to have infuriated Kenyans, the second year student who vented his anger on the social media platform, unknown to him that on the 2nd of April, exactly two months after his post, he would face a similar fate like the 28 teachers and 36 quarry workers.
When Alshaabab militants struck the university college at around 5.30 am, the 20- year- old just like most of his fellow students was fast asleep. He sent a text message to his father Benson Mutuku the Makueni Branch, KNUT Secretary General immediately after the attack saying
“Dad tumeevamiwa na Alshaabab na watatuua kwa hivyo niombee” (Dad we have been attacked by the Alshaabab and they will kill us. Pray for me.)
He was brutally killed by the terrorists in the hostels together with other 146 students before they could scamper to safety.
Interestingly, the Bachelor of Business Management and Accounts student post continues to read,
“To me, this shows how the govt unskillfully and clumsily handles issues,”(sic).
As if a premonition, the government coincidentally, in Mutuku’s words clumsily and unskillfully responded to the Garissa attack leading to the high number of casualties. It took seven hours for the government to airlift a 18-member elite Recce squad to Garissa after the Makueni Boys’ School alumni and his fellow students were long dead.
It would emerge later, from media reports that the police chopper that was to be used for the rescue mission had gone to Mombasa apparently on a private mission, to pick up the daughter-in-law of the Kenya Police Airwing Commandant Rogers Mbithi and unidentified businessman.
If the chopper had been standby, probably the dreams of Mutuku and that of many others would not have been shattered so violently by the terrorists.
The second year student was laid to rest on Tuesday, April 14 at his parents’ farm in Ngutwa, Makueni County amid grief and anger. Mourners wept uncontrollably during the emotional sendoff attended by Governor Kivutha Kibwana and top KNUT officials among other leaders.
Mutuku’s parents Mr and Mrs Benson Ndambuki too distraught to speak, in their written tribute read on their behalf did not run short of positive adjectives to describe their first-born son.
“He was sociable, intelligent, humble and an epitome of kindness in the family. We are all still in shock that you died such a painful death,” they said.
“Our son worked hard and secured himself a place at the Moi University, Garissa campus to redeem the family and the entire community from poverty and injustices. It is so sad that he succumbed to an injustice that he was so determined to fight. May the killers never live to stage another attack,” they added.
Doreen Aketch a survivor of the attack, eulogized Mutuku as hardworking and a person with big dreams.
“He was focused, a fast thinker and he even harbored political ambitions. Too bad that he never lived to achieve his big dreams,” said Aketch who hid in a wardrobe during the attack for more than 13 hours before Kenya Defense Forces soldiers came to her rescue.
Makueni residents on social media including the governor also mourned Mutuku describing him as an educated and a vibrant young man who will be remembered for his kindness.
Leaders who spoke in the burial ceremony, condemned the violence unleashed on the innocent and defenseless students and urged the government to move with speed and stem the rising wave of terrorism in the country.
“The government should stop at nothing to secure the country, anybody who supports terrorism should be flashed out,” said Kibwana.
KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion called on the government to close the university college together with the Garissa Teachers college and relocate the students and the personnel to other institutions in the country.
“Let the government close these institutions and instead establish a military base to tame insecurity in the region,” said Sossion.
He also castigated the North Eastern leaders for allegedly abetting terrorism.
“Radicalization in the region is real and unless the leaders and the locals fight the vice, we will continue to suffer,” noted the secretary general.
KNUT Chairperson Mudzo Nzili urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to use the powers bestowed to him by the Constitution to secure Kenyans and their property.
“Leadership is a trust bestowed on somebody let the president act decisively,” said Nzili.
Makueni County, in total lost nine students in the 5.30 am attack and as the families, relatives and friends bury their beloved sons and daughters whose dreams have been nipped in the bud, their hope is that no other family will have to go though similar circumstances.
Just like Benson summed up his sons’ tribute
“May this innocent blood avenge the deaths.”