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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Kenyan Somalis at Risk of Xenophobic Attacks

Apparently people are shocked that the constant vilification of Somalis on TV, Social Media and Parliament could lead to reprisal attacks against them. Some of us are on the record stating the obvious long before this war.

The distrust of Somalis will always hurt national cohesion more than it will harm actual Somalis living in Kenya. To the extent that there is a significant portion of the Kenyan populace that is somaliphobic, I think that emanates from trade envy and a failure to understand the significant role we played in this country's history. Historical revisionism has edited out the vital role Somalis hold in this nation and our contribution to the remarkable success of the Kenyan economy in the past decade.

It doesn't help either that we have brain-dead leaders who continue to feed upon our disenfranchisement rather than unity. The unintended consequence of  this conflation of Somalis with Al-Shabab might be the unification of all Somalis living in Kenya.

Let me get to the point of this post.. which is this assessment offered by the head of NCIC regarding Somali Kenyans.

The continued branding of Kenyan Somalis as Al-Shabaab sympathisers could fuel xenophobic attacks against them, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission has warned.
NCIC also criticised Friday’s attack on presidential hopeful Raphael Tuju who was on a campaign tour in Kisumu, which it described as the "apex in the country’s pyramid of intolerance".
On the hate propaganda targeted at Kenyan Somali community, chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia said this was being propagated through social media, broadcasts and SMS text messages.
“These include one that advises Kenyans to alight from matatus if they get on board. This outrightly amounts to fear mongering and is likely to fuel xenophobic attacks against the community. We shall not allow this to happen,” said Mr Kibunjia at the Commission’s Delta House headquarters in Nairobi Saturday.
“People become Al-Shabaab or any militia group on their individual capacity and not as an ethnic group or race,” he said citing Elgiva Bwire Oliacha, the self-confessed terrorist, who pleaded guilty to the grenade attacks in Nairobi last month.

Finally, I received an e-mail, yesterday, from a friend asking me to make a distinction between Somali Kenyans and Somali refugees so (non-Somali) readers can know who I'm referring to. I refuse to do so mainly because those who hate us for being Somali generally hate us without making any such distinction. I don't think selling out my refugee brethren would make them accept me for the Kenyan that I am anymore.


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