The international and local media coverage of the Garissa University College shootings, which saw at least 147 people killed by Al-Shabaab militia, has been heavily criticised. While names of the attackers have been widely published, the victims have often been reduced to a number: 147.
In response, Kenyans online have made efforts to give names and faces to the victims of the barbaric violence.
Blogging at the Africa is a Country blog, Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina said Kenya is “not a nation if we can’t properly memorialize each and every citizen we lose”:
I want to see the names ages and photographs of those who died in Mpeketoni. Those killed during PEV. Stories. Forgetting is not good. It is in these acts, our public commons reawaken. The politics of saying we are not ready to face ourselves, the fullness of our pain, is the same politics that allows us to ignore it when a Kenyan strips the institution they are given to run, strips it dry, dry, and returns like a zombie, a plastic rubber-band zombie in some new form, to govern somewhere else again.
I want to see three million Nairobians flood the streets to cry, and sing, and hug because our children have been killed. I want to stop feeling that we live inside mostly the private. I want never to hear the word self-empowerment again.
On Twitter, Ory Okolloh Mwangi explained why it is important in African culture to name the victims:
Naming and naming ceremonies a big deal in African culture. Signifies life past, present, future. And so we will name them one by one.
— Ory Okolloh Mwangi (@kenyanpundit) April 5, 2015
In order to humanise the victims, some Twitter users have tweeted the hashtag #147notjustanumber to share their names and photos:
RIP Elizabeth Nyangarora. Graduated in 2012 from St Andrews Kanga Girls High. #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames pic.twitter.com/CPVPzNw0RB
— Tom Vandenbosch (@TVandenbosch) April 5, 2015
This is Tobias, he died in #GarissaAttack; to us he's not a number, he's a son, bro, friend. #147notJustANumber pic.twitter.com/dUSLXnCv9V
— Mr. B (@Benogola) abril 5, 2015
R.I.P Ivy Betty Wanjiku (Shiko) 1st yr student #GarissaAttack #147NotJustANumber cc @Maskani254 pic.twitter.com/JqBZzXrTP0
— Ian (@ianmslim) abril 6, 2015
Angela ‘Ka/Jojo’ Kimata Githakwa #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames Karima Girls’ high School Alumni 2011 pic.twitter.com/NNl7KbX6MV
— Maskani Ya Taifa (@Maskani254) abril 6, 2015
#147notjustanumber We will keep their memories in our hearts forever. Please keep sending their bios and photos pic.twitter.com/9YXligTxgs
— #147notjustanumber (@Lovefied) abril 6, 2015
As attackers get headlines and their names live in immortality, their victims are forgotten as just statistics. #147notjustanumber
— DM Licker (@Owaahh) April 6, 2015
@Reclvse wrote that it is about lives and not statistics:
I like how Kenyans are mentioning names & telling stories of the Garissa attack victims to ensure #147notjustanumber. Lives, not statistics.
— [uncens***d] (@Reclvse) April 5, 2015
@lunarnomad spoke about the intention behind the hashtag:
I'm so tired of seeing bloody images in the media regarding #Garissa Check out #147notjustanumber to see the humans behind the bullets.
— mango (@lunarnomad) April 6, 2015
Mary Njeri Mburu tweeted:
I hope the print media will run free obituaries for victims of Garissa attack as they did after Westgate. #147notjustanumber #GarissaAttack
— Mary Njeri Mburu (@mburumaria) abril 6, 2015
Eunice shared a Kenyan proverb, under a different hashtag — #KenyanLivesMatter, a spin on the #BlackLivesMatter movement in the United States:
A man who uses force is afraid of reasoning. ~Kenyan proverb. My thoughts with you. #KenyanLivesMatter #GarrisaAttack
— Eunice (@EuniceKira) April 5, 2015
This was a false flag,like the Westgate and Lamu! The Anglo Zionists have obviously decided on a
Boko Haram style destablisation of Kenya. “Dear Reader,one last critical detail of the Garissa attack-it took
place on April 3rd,the beginning of the Jewish passover. This a
favourite time for the Chosenites to sacrifice non Jews,goyim aka human
hahaha, so dumb this kay. And then the Jews will all fly to the Moon, meeting with their extraterrestian supporters. Oh man, even after Al-Shabaab claims to be responisble you come with this???
Sorry, but I don’t believe any Kenyan will be foolished by this stupid argument.
Continue seeing the world with the eyes of a child! False flags are how the West does things:ask yourself why all the Boko Haram/ISIS/ISIL/Al Qaeda only kill Muslims or their poor countrymen. International terror doesn’t exist! This episode like the Westgate is about LAPSSET and punishing Kenyan people for siding with China.
Taurian72,i hope you’re Kenyan! All the clues are so obvious and we still can’t see it;this may be the beginning of a Boko Haram 2.0 and we still don’t know what time it is.
Actually Im not….I am Canandian Black and Native….I have lots of African friends from all over but especially Kenya. It’s not just an African problem it’s a melanin problem and we as a whole need to address it
No Im Canadian raised with my African heritage