It is exactly a year since, four armed men from the Al-Qaeda branch in East Africa, had led an operation against the university, executing 148 people, mostly students.
It is exactly a year since, four armed men from the Al-Qaeda branch in East Africa, had led an operation against the university, executing 148 people, mostly students. On April 2, 2015, several armed men entered the campus, in north-eastern Kenya. They killed 142 students, 3 guards and 3 policemen. The Al-Shabaab group, linked to al-Qaeda later claim responsibility for the attack. Their goal: to impose Sharia law in East Africa.
The 600 survivors of the murderous rampage, continue to attend classes at the University of Eldoret, over 700 km from Garissa, but cannot forget the haunting memories from the massacre.
Abdul opens a creaking door. It overlooks the housing unit where students were killed by al Shebab Islamists a year ago.
He uses a stick to break the lock on the worm-eaten wood. "I cannot touch the handle, it is cursed." The employee of the University of Garissa enters the room. Two bunk beds are stored in a corner. With a lump in his throat, Abdul feels the bullet holes in metal studs. One, two, three…it is almost impossible to count them all. "We'll have to throw away these beds, or at least try to repair them," he said before turning to the floor. A bloodstain still lingers on the faded linoleum. His voice wavers. "The university plans to redo everything. We must remove the traces of the massacre.” Soon, you should see students playing football. But for someone who experienced firsthand, the happenings a year ago, images of mutilated bodies back to haunt him.
Survivors of the massacre chose to commemorate the event with a party, a celebration of life.
A hundred people wearing T-shirts with peace slogans gathered in Garissa, 365 kilometers northeast of the capital Nairobi and 150 km from the Somali border, to participate in a race for the victims.
Prayers and candlelight vigils were planned for Saturday in Garissa and Nairobi, an initiative of government officials.
This official commemoration, however, contrasts with the absence of the authorities in the aftermath of the attack, leaving the population of the victimized area to comfort each other.