“Pray for me. I need peace of mind, strength and wisdom. I am struggling with dreams that cause me to snap awake, and then I cannot get back to sleep. I find myself remembering the horror of that day. The sounds and smells come back clearly.” The chairman of Garissa University College’s Christian Union, Frederick Gitonga who survived the April 2 al-Shabaab attack in which 148 students were killed in Kenya, has given an account of the killings done that morning.
29 Christian students had gathered for worship and prayer that morning at Garissa University, Kenya. They were holding hands as they continued to pray when Al-Shabaab terrorists broke into the building and shot the young women leading the prayer. They continued to kill them one-by-one, laughing when they did so. They moved on to the dormitories and separated students by religion. They killed all who were non Muslims, bringing the total to 150.
Gitonga went on to provide the gory account saying, “My roommates ran out, leaving the door wide open,” he explained. “I felt a strong urge not to run, but to stay put. As I hid under the bed, I could hear the gunshots and screams of fellow students. I could hear them lying to women that they should come out since their religion does not allow them to kill women. When they did, they were all killed. I know of no single Muslim who lost his/her life. After some time things went quiet, but I did not move.” Many survived in truly miraculous ways and are immensely traumatized by the happenings of the day.
Al-Shabaab’s attacks inside Kenya have heightened since 2011, when the country sent its forces to war-torn Somalia to pursue the group. The militants responded by targeting churches, public transport and government buildings, such as police stations.
The Garrisa University attack happened just over a week ago and is the latest in the series of escalating threats to Christians from Islamic radicals. But the fact of the matter is we are becoming desensitized to these tragedies. For instance the kidnapping of Chibok girls a year ago started a global outrage and social media campaign of protest where millions tweeted #BringBackOurGirls but this time we can hear a cricket chirp. No trending hash tags, no breaking news updates on the aftermath of the university attack, only a haunting silence. This silence is most poignant in the halls of power in the United States and Europe. Pope Francis rightly called out in his Easter homily that, “these atrocities happen because there are those who commit them and those who simply remain silent.”