One of the closest persons to me happens to be a career soldier who has served in the force for years now. Apart from knowing this guy as my godfather, I know him as a loyal member of the Kenya Defence Forces; a courageous warrior of our motherland who is always ready to pay the ultimate price for the sake of our present and future generations. For him, being a soldier is not simply a career, it is a noble calling.
Therefore, when the sad news reached me last Friday that an unknown number of precious lives of our gallant soldiers had been lost at the KDF EL Adde camp in Somalia, the first thing that immediately came to my mind was him and his family. Actually, I was not able to concentrate in the conference I was attending any more. Though the man is currently not in the war front, I could not help but conceptualize the pain, anxiety and fear evident in the eyes of his young wife, daughter and son. I could vividly see them making frantic calls to be sure that the most important man in their life is safe.
It is on this note that I dedicate this space to all our sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts who lost their lives on that fateful day.
Back then in October 2011, a life changing declaration was made by the Kibaki administration. Following this announcement almost immediately was the firing of the first bullet. Kenya as a republic was going to war for the first time since independence. Our forces were entering Somalia to pursue Alshabaab militants who had began to give us sleepless nights.
Initially, this move never made much sense to many of us especially those below 60 years. We had never seen a war. We could not conceptualize how it would turn out. We could not predict its consequences. After all, the last serious war within or involving our borders was the historic Mau Mau uprising in which our forefathers fought valorously to deliver the Kenyan dream. Since then, we have enjoyed enviable peace except for the 1982 coup attempt and the 2007/2008 post election turmoil, both of which never escalated to a full blown war.
But when the official announcement was made that Kenya was ostensibly embarking on Operation Linda Nchi to secure our territories, one thing was clear to all. The sovereignty of our republic was at stake. Our borders were no longer secure. The future of our children was at stake. An extremist group operating in Somalia had decided to trespass our land. They had to be stopped. This situation had to be rectified.
Therefore we all concurred that it was time to send our forces to the war torn Somalia to pursue and deal with the militants.
And because our soldiers understood the price losing our independence, they took up the task wholeheartedly. Fueling their determination was the fact that blood of inestimable value was spilt for Kenya to be declared a republic; that blood had to be respected and its sanctity guarded with unrivalled zeal.
They therefore took up their arms and with courage, patriotism and optimism ventured into Somalia – an unknown territory – Their sole focus was bringing victory home.
As expected, they made progress faster than expected. Town after town, village after village, they captured, killed and forced to flee the dreaded AlShabaab militants. But perhaps the epitome of it all is when the triumphantly captured the port city of Kismayu. Finally they had been able to dismantle the economic and political nerve centre of terror group. Yes, they had done it. The point had been driven made. You could not joke with our freedom and escape unscathed.
But wait, time was not yet ripe to go home. The war torn country had to be pacified and a stable government put in place. That way, a permanent solution could be established. And so our soldiers remained in Somalia finishing the unfinished business.
And everything went on well until last week when things took a different and unfortunate turn. The few remaining militants who had hidden among the population – and perhaps combining forces with those who had fled to Arabian countries during the KDF incursion – attacked our soldiers at the El Adde camp. Sadly, a number we are yet to know of our soldiers lost their lives. Others were injured. This was undoubtedly the most devastating attack on our forces since they entered Somalia.
On that dark day, we were hit as a nation. We suffered unprecedented loss. Every Kenyan was troubled.
BUT DEFINITELY, WE WERE NOT DESTROYED. THERE EXISTS NEITHER A SINGLE PERSON NOR A GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO CAN DESTROY THE KENYAN SPIRIT. IT IS INDOMITABLE.
THEREFORE, THIS IS MY MESSAGE TO ALL OUR GALLANT SOLDIERS WHO LOST THEIR LIVES DURING THE COWARDLY ATTACK.
ALVAN KINYUA, CITIZEN NO: 28460574 SALUTES YOU. KENYA SALUTES YOU. THE WORLD SALUTES YOU.
YOU MADE US PROUD BY REMAINING TRUE TO YOUR CALLING. YOU FOUGHT A GOOD FIGHT.
OUR SOVEREIGNTY WOULD BE MEANINGLESS IF THERE WAS NO ONE WHO WAS WILLING TO PAY THE ULTIMATE PRICE DEFENDING IT.
IT IS NOT THE STRONG WINDS THAT SWEEP OUR GREAT NATION EVERYDAY THAT WILL FOREVER KEEP OUR NATIONAL FLAG FLYING HIGH BUT RATHER, IT IS THE LAST BREATH OF EACH AND EVERY SOLDIER WHO LOST HIS LIFE AT EL ADDE.
Today, we stand together as a nation vowing not to be cowed, not to be intimidated. We shall fight and win the rest of this war so that as each and every slain officer lay peacefully in his grave, he/she shall remain assured that their sacrifice was not in vain.
And to the remaining Al Shabaab elements, we are coming for you. It is just a matter of time; a very short time indeed and the rest will be history.
IN FACT, ALVAN KINYUA MAY NOT IN THE WAR FRONT RIGHT NOW BUT BE FULLY AWARE THAT I AM WILLING AND READY TO TAKE UP THE TASK OF SECURING THE FUTURE OF MY COUNTRY IF THE NEED EVER ARISES.
AFTERALL, IT MAY NOT BE OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO JUDGE TERRORISTS, BUT IT IS DEFINITELY OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO SEND THEM FASTER TO THE CREATOR FOR JUDGEMENT.
RIP KDF HEROES