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Kenya’s military has been inside Somalia ostensibly pursuing al-Shabaab militants since 2011 as part of the US-led ‘war on terror’. No one knows when the mission will end or its cost. There is little discussion about the war among Kenyans. Government updates are impossible to verify. The public is generally assumed to be in support of the invasion – even when in reality they are so ignorant of what is going on to really care.

Some parents in Kenya would pay a hefty bribe or use their secret networks of influence to have their son enlisted with Kenya Defence Forces. And then the family turns up at their church to offer special prayers of thanksgiving to God for the “miracle breakthrough” of their son’s employment. Jobs are scarce in Kenya. More prayers are offered when the son passes out as a KDF soldier.

Thereafter the son is dispatched to Somalia to fight in the misguided war against Al-Shabaab under the African Union Mission, AMISOM. The family stays awake most nights praying for his safety – and for quick victory of KDF over Al-Shabaab, in the Mighty Name of Jesus!

Meanwhile they enjoy the monies their son is paid by the “international community”. Europe and America are clever enough not to deploy their troops to such an extremely dangerous place as Somalia; but they can pay any government that is stupid and greedy enough to send its sons to die in a war they will never win.

You see, it is called the Military-Industrial-Complex. Military supplies are a top export of Europe and America. And the companies engaged in military contracting are owned by the who’s-who in the top echelons of power. In other words for Europe and America, war is good business.

So our Kenyan son is with AMISOM somewhere in the deserts of Somalia. We are there with him in prayers, day and night. One day, he goes out with a crazed company of soldiers who storm a village, murder all the men, rape every woman and girl they find before butchering them. They shoot at everything that moves, including terrified crawling little children, and burn everything down to ashes. Then the soldiers stagger back to camp with looted gunny bags of charcoal and sugar, singing circumcision songs.

In Nairobi, the KDF Spokesman tweets gleefully that our soldiers killed 127 Al-Shabaab militants in an overnight attack at a key camp. Of course no details are furnished. This is a security issue. We accept what we are told. And so the “good news” quickly spreads out to the ends of the Earth. The parents of our son sing, “Hallelujiah! No one is like unto Our God! Ebenezer!”

Days later, Al-Shabaab overrun an AMISOM camp in retaliation. They massacre hundreds of soldiers, whose number is never revealed. This is a security issue, we are reminded. The soldiers were caught utterly flatfooted while boozing and reciting Swahili lyrics to some local girls who somehow wandered into the camp.

Our son is among the dead.

At the funeral service KDF top dogs speak highly of the young man’s courage and love for Kenya and of his special dedication to the Somali people, especially the poor women and children who are victims of Al-Shabaab. He gave his life for a stable and prosperous Somalia. The parents eulogise their son:

“We loved you, but God loved you more. All is well. Your reward awaits you in Heaven. Till we meet again in glory.”

And all the people say: “Aaameeen!"

* Henry Makori is an editor with Pambazuka News.



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