When we (journalists) arrived at Jamhuri High School, we were received by a wave of thick tension you could cut it with a sharp axe and it wouldn’t break. Limping students with bandaged hands, bleeding body parts and a heavy contingent of the riot Police greeted us at the gate.
According to reports, Wednesday early morning at around 7 am in what is believed to be a religious conflict, a group of students stormed the principal’s office with whips and stones ready to take the law in their hands. According to eyewitness accounts, they started to beat up the principal. Two teachers who had come to defend their boss also met the wrath of the irate students who decided to throw them off the balcony from the first floor of the administration block.
Luckily, the distance did not break any born with the teaches walking away safe but with minor bruises.
Before it dawned on the rest of the students who were in their classes what was going on, a stampede had been caused with some starting to fight back as others went on a destructive rampage. The riot was officially on and the boundaries had been marked. Let us not whitewash anything, it was a religious conflict between Muslims and Christians but exacerbated by the administration for their inaction.
Before the riot police arrived, five students had been badly wounded and had to be rushed to the hospital while 15 more according to official statistics received first aid and went back to school.
As I was speaking to the Muslim students, I could tell that they were angry. Like a closed volcano, the students said all channels to deal with their grievances had either been shut or they didn’t feel heard and the only way, at least in their minds was to erupt and they resorted to violence.
Which leads me to this question, what is becoming of this country? Do we maybe need to change our culture of dealing with issues?
When the administration decided to speak to the media, the board chairperson Lorna Mumelo was vague, giving conflicting reports which were worlds apart from the official information from the eyewitnesses. Journalists raised weighty issues but she had the audacity to pull the leadership of the school away from critical accountability questions even barring the principal from answering answers.
Her grave vagueness in the face of horrible conflicts where there were accusations that some students had carried to school weapons like swords which were allegedly used in the attack that could point to a premeditated plan was shocking. I’ve never seen anything like that.
When you live in a country where leaders barely have a sense of personal responsibility and accountability to the public and you have leaders who can respond with impunity like she did, that’s where the problem starts.
We must nurture a culture where leaders are accountable to the public.
While clearly there are deep issues in the school, where two students of different faiths almost fought in the glaring eyes of the camera, the police and the parents, it shows how emboldened they have been. It shows a hardened strain of impunity that is taking root in the DNA of many Kenyans.
To make matters worse, the parents almost descended on the troublemaker where he had to be whisked away by the police. Parents of different faiths almost fought before us.
How then can these parents, who were clearly partisan on the entire issue and were ready to take matters into their own hands claim to raise responsible children? The tragedy comes from the homes where children are raised. Violent parents who have a deficiency of any outstanding moral character to lead their children.
The lack of leadership at home then manifests in such brazen conflicts in the public arena but we ask why there is a problem. If we want to see a better society, we have to go back and love our families just like Mother Teresa said.
You see, we live in a society where we whitewash the truth. Someone would rather comfort you with a lie than make you uncomfortable with the truth. Some people will be uncomfortable to call the elephant in the room for what it is. Because we have been stung by the bug of political correctness that we sacrifice the truth at the altar of it.
Then coupled with our mastery of the ‘accept and move on’ slogan, we will be quick to drag the latest stain on the fabric of our society into the cabinets of forgetfulness. Then when a tragedy comes up we again, we begin to run like a headless chicken.
I want to call the ministry to dig deeper into what’s causing the religious animosity in Jamhuri High School. After that, a thorough corrective measure should be taken to deal with the problem once and for all.
Kenyans, we have to keep the ministry accountable until they deliver on this one. Oh, btw, what became of the Moi girls story?