Sunday, November 15, 2015

            Their silence is deafening.

            As France and the free world come to terms with another monstrous act of meaningless violence in Paris, and the world’s leaders condemn the bestiality of the killers, the Muslim communities in these countries remain singularly silent.
            Where is their unified outcry? The rejection by their leaders; marches in the street decrying what is being done in their name; the public insistence that this is not a Muslim fight but an aberration of Islam.
             Nothing is heard from them. Why? 
Their silence is not innocent. It plays into the hands of the terrorist. It tells them that their fellow Muslims who number many millions in western countries such as the UK, Germany, France and the USA will not oppose them;  they will be their silent allies. 
            ‘This is not Islam,' they insist. 'The Koran preaches peace. Don’t label us with the action of an aberrant few,’ they repeat.
            That is not good enough. To show that Islam is truly a peaceful belief, a way of life that deplores violence, the moderate Muslims must speak up. We must hear their voices of protest, we must see their visible rejection of the violence, which is being meted out in their name.
             If they continue to remain silent, ordinary men and women will conclude that they are complicit in the atrocities.

            Now is not the time to remain silent.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Lufthansa Germanwings flight No 9525

            The startling revelation on Tuesday 24th March 2015, that the crashed Germanwings airplane No 9525 flying from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, was the result of a deliberate act carried out by the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz a 28 year-old German, has struck a ghastly ominous note in the investigation.
             On first hearing this explanation one’s initial response is to reject it.  How can a man trained as a pilot in control of a plane deliberately choose to crash it? Having accepted the responsibility to pilot a plane what could possibly prompt him to take such desperate action?  What thoughts would have gone through his mind? If done deliberately, how desperate had he to be to kill almost 300 people none of whom he knew.
            If he felt his life made no sense, why choose the moment when he was in charge of a plane carrying hundreds of people to kill himself?
Could the desire to commit suicide come on quickly and irrationally?  Is if possible that in his deranged mind, he forgot about the passengers?
Suppose he had a row with the chief pilot over a girl or because he was caught smuggling drugs and was about to be exposed. Will anyone be able to understand what went through his mind?
             Could the two pilots have had a row? Was there something between him and the captain a personal grudge? Is it possible that he was only trying to frighten the captain and intended to take back control of the plane before it had accelerated too fast? Did he lose control of the plane having started the descent? Did he panic and was unable to activate the lever? Was he struggling to bring the plane out of the dive but too late?
            Why did he not open the door to let the captain back into the cockpit? Would a responsible pilot choose that moment to live out his anger? 
            And what of the relatives? To hear that the loss of their loved ones was a deliberate act makes it almost too much to bear. Because of the speed of impact on the ground, the authorities believe death to be instantaneous, but there was about 8 minutes of terrifying descent, each watching the earth looming up towards them. How would they deal with that? What massive terror would they have felt, so many young lives lost?
            Can the relatives ever overcome the shock and distress so as to be able to return to some semblance of normality? How will they collect the broken bodies now in parts dispersed over a wide area?  
Could the families accept a common grave in the mountains at the site of the crash with a monument to mark the spot?
            In a modern society we give individuals more and more responsibility and depend on them to perform their functions safely. Train and bus drivers, doctors, and pilots all have the lives of many people in their hands. There are innumerable examples where these individuals have failed and lives have been lost. Inevitably there is a call for more regular psychological testing but that science is still particularly imprecise more an art than a science.

The three major TV News channels are having a heyday almost a feeding frenzy as they dissect and repeat time and again the same details, each announcer speaking as if what he or she is saying is breaking news seemingly unaware that they are restating almost word by word what has been said many times before.
            They appear to have become immune to what they are saying reporting numbers of deaths as if football scores. Does the fact that X number of people was killed make the tragedy worse? Surely one unnecessary death is one too many?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Kenya has more than one story ?

When I run out of ideas I find inspiration from watching TED. A talk or two soon brings me back to some sort of sanity. To see those amazing people all of whom have made a significant contribution in a wide range of activities is very stimulating. Just to feel the passion with which they tell their story is enlightening. They all share something in common and that is confidence, some speak off the cuff others use notes but the method of delivery is inconsequential, what matters is the confidence with which they speak.
           One particular speaker spoke on the plight of girls and women in the world, particularly the world of poverty. She told two different  stories each about mothers struggling to feed their children. Another talked about how the world is becoming increasingly multicultural with more people having a mixed origin, where birthplace, nationality and home are different. 
          An inspired young African writer spoke about the danger of telling one story.  It is very easy to do that about Kenya, To describe the corruption, the violence, the rubbish and the dishonesty but there are so many others, the humour , the colour, the optimism, the resilience and energy of the people.; the man with one arm trying to make a living,  another with a deformed foot selling mangoes, always smiling and greeting me even though I don’t buy anything. The boys selling small packets of peanuts, or simply wanting money to buy food standing on the street all day when they should be at school but their parents either can't of don’t want to afford the fees.

            It’s so easy to tell the one story and ignore all the others. Well from now on I am going to try not to emphasise the bad but find the good and there is a lot of it. The young woman wanting to be a surgeon whose parents were teenagers and unmarried when she was conceived. The Likoni project supporting bright kids who would otherwise end up on the streets or as criminals. How easy it must be to give up but another day dawns and you are hungry so you start again?