“Terrorism is a constructed ideology. For it to be defeated in Kenya and elsewhere, we need to construct a counter-ideology through an equally discursive process…Yet creating an effective counter-ideology, like the ‘We Are One’ campaign, requires a reconstruction of identity and an answer to the question, Who is really a Kenyan, and who is not?”
The time has come to reflect soberly on the significance of the Westgate mall siege and other terrorist attacks, and what lessons must be drawn to prevent another tragedy. The imminent danger remains the inability of our states’ security institutions and our regional and continental security instruments to effectively tackle extremism-related acts of violence and terrorism. A vast movement must take place to ready the continent to meet this clear and present danger.
The Westgate Mall terror attack of September 21 has raised many questions about the nature of national security in Kenya and regional security in Eastern Africa and the Horn of Africa. These questions call for a rethinking of how security operations are conceived and executed, as well as an understanding of how the war on terror has raised new stakes and demanded different approaches to security.
The September 21 Al-Shabaab attack was a significant blow to the difficult process of state building on the continent, producing a sort of fear that prompts advocates of good governance to give states a blank check in the so-called ‘war on terror.’ People in Somalia and other countries touched by Somalia’s instability should, above all else, rededicate themselves to the fight for good governance and try to recapture the respect for human rights (including those of terrorists), as well as the commitment to the rule of law (including when dealing with terrorists) that such attacks tempt us to cast aside.