WHAT TO DO IN A TERRORIST ATTACK

It has been an awful month, you’ll agree with me on that. In the past three weeks, we have seen several attacks which have been classified as terrorist attacks occurring around the world. These include the Orlando shooting, the killing of a French policeman, the police escort ambush in Mandera and, most recently, the attack on the Istanbul Ataturk airport. In total, we have seen at least 90 fatalities and over 300 injuries, all in 18 days! This scenario has left me feeling guilty as maybe some of the dead may have come across this article if I had written it earlier and maybe they would still be with us. Anyway, I hope that this article will be helpful to anyone who may get caught up in such an attack. Some of these tips are courtesy of the BBC.

  1. Be prepared

In many situations, people who are not expecting gunshots will assume they are something else because they do not fit in with their environment or expectations. This was seen in the Orlando attack where some witnesses said that they initially thought the gunshots were part of the music that was playing. We need to always be prepared for possible worst case scenarios as people who usually do this take less time reacting and hence are able to take action faster. This includes locating all emergency exits, keeping an eye out for suspicious people particularly sweaty, twitchy ones or those with backpacks and keeping loved ones close to you in case you need to make a run for it. Also, if possible, have the right equipment like gas masks and helmets around you at all times. This may sound silly and inconvenient but will definitely come in handy in case of chemical attacks or fires.

  1. React quickly

A vast majority of people will be too confused to do anything during an attack. In fact, studies show that in life threatening situations worldwide, only 15% of people will react in a way that will help them survive. 75% of will be too perplexed to do anything while the remaining 10% will react in a way that reduces their chances of survival. In such situations, acting decisively is important for survival and waiting for other people to act first, as some studies have shown, might actually lead to doom. Remember, in such situations, every split second counts.

  1. Make yourself a smaller target

Get out of the way of attack. Take cover, preferably behind a hard reinforced concrete wall. Hide in offices and toilets if possible. Lie down and keep quiet. Run if it is safe to do so and if so, take others with you and leave belongings behind. Basically, keep out of the line of sight of the attacker. Attackers are always looking for movement. Therefore, any sound or movement will definitely catch their eye and this could result in more injuries and fatalities.

  1. Resist

This is definitely not the best idea, particularly if you have no training. This is because most attackers usually move in groups and some of them have explosives and body armor. However, some people argue that fighting back may be important if necessary. This is particularly illustrated in situations where the terrorists seem to only be motivated to kill or if opportunities present themselves, for example, if the attacker is distracted and the hostages can overpower him/her.

  1. Co-operate with others

One assumption that is usually made that in major attacks; it’s usually everybody for himself and God for us all. However, that is not the case. Studies have shown that in such situations, people always help each other out. This increases the people’s chances of survival and definitely avoids situations whereby everyone gets jammed at crucial exits like fire escapes. So, if you get caught up in such an attack, help a brother or sister out as well.

  1. Communicate

We live in the day and age where almost everyone has a mobile phone and internet access. Therefore, communication is crucial in case of an attack. If you are able to hide in a secure location and have a means of communicating with the outside world like a mobile phone, use it. Contact friends, relatives or the police and constantly keep them filled them in on what is going on in the premises. If possible, take videos and pictures of where you are. This goes a long in helping authorities to figure out how to react and rescue hostages. But remember, DO NOT GET CAUGHT! It is therefore advisable to put your phone on silent to avoid detection and use messaging services.

  1. After the escape

Once someone has escaped from the situation, it is important to be vigilant. Get as far away as possible, get as much hard cover as possible and avoid big groups nearby or taking public transport. This is based on the assumption that there may be a secondary device or action. Always go to the nearest authorities and take advice from them as they may have better knowledge of the situation.

Too many lives have been lost to the global scourge of terrorism. It is therefore our duty to unite so as to ensure that no more lives are lost. On that, I would like to offer my condolences to all those who have lost their loved ones to the recent series of loved ones and particularly whose died during the Turkish airport attacks.  You will always be in our hearts.

As always, I look forward to your feedback so feel free to comment and if you liked it, go on to give it a thumbs up and share. Cheers!

PS, Happy Social Media Day!!

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We need to talk about this

I can’t do this. I can’t write this. Maybe I shouldn’t write this post. Maybe I should just give up and go to bed.  But if we don’t talk about it makes it worse. Not saying that there isn’t enough conversation on this subject but I feel that we aren’t doing enough. So I am going to do this. Someone has to talk about it so I’ll talk about it. Kind warning, some of the issues addressed may be considered explicit or graphic.

Over the past week, there has been a story that has been trending on the internet. It’s about the Stanford rape case. For those who have not heard or read about it, this is a case in which an undergraduate freshman at Stanford University who was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman during a party in the school’s campus was sentenced to six months in prison and three years of probation with half the prison time suspended due to the county laws of the state of California. This decision sparked outrage as the defendant faced up to 14 years in state prison and the prosecutors had asked for six years but the judge gave the lesser sentence as he felt that the harsher sentence would have a severe impact on the defendant who is a star swimmer who could have made it to the Olympics. The victim then read a letter in court that was released on the internet and went on to ignite the debate on sexual assault and how it is dealt with in the justice system and by society in general.

This case got me thinking on how we in Kenya deal with rape and sexual assault in Kenya. First of all, we need to ask ourselves, what is rape and sexual assault? To answer this, we first need to look at gender based violence which the1993 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women defines as “Any act … that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” Different categories of this crime include abuse, sexual assault and rape. Abuse can take various forms including economic, emotional, physical and sexual, including rape. Rape, according to the Sexual Offences Act of 2006 defines rape as the “intentional and unlawful committing of an act which causes penetration with one’s genital organs without the consent of the other party or when the consent has been obtained by force or by means of intimidation or threats of any kind.” Sexual assault, on the hand, is defined as “unlawful penetration of genital organs of another person using one’s genital organs or by use of another object manipulated by the other person unless where such penetration is carried out for proper professional hygienic or medical purposes.”

Now, looking at Kenya’s statistics on rape and sexual assault nearly made me cry – and you know how difficult it is to make a red blooded African man to cry. According to the Equality Effect, an organization that works to improve the welfare of women and girls worldwide by using international human rights laws to offer open justice for them, the number of women raped is estimated at 160 per day although this number could be higher as majority of cases go unreported. According to findings collected by CSI Nairobi between December 30th 2007 and June 30th 2008, there were an estimated number of 40500 rape cases although they also contend that the figure could be more than 3 times higher.

There are various types of rape that are common in Kenya. In the rural areas, statutory rape is widespread. This kind of rape is whereby an underage person is subjected to sexual activity. It is usually carried out by persons who are known to the victim. This is exemplified in cases where teachers engage in sexual activity with their students or when adults, especially relatives, rape even toddlers. Slums in major urban areas have witnessed a rise in gang rape while suburbs and colleges have seen date rape and rape by stalkers.

What has the justice system done to mitigate this situation? According to our laws, anyone found guilty of rape and sexual assault is liable upon conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years but which may be enhanced to imprisonment for life while attempted rape carries a sentence of not less than five years and can also be enhanced to life imprisonment. However, in Kenya, many cases go unreported. For example, in areas where statutory rape is rampant, most cases are settled out of court with little or no justice being administered for the victims. Even when the cases have been reported to the police, little or no action is taken. This situation was confirmed in a landmark ruling by the High Court in May 2013 which stated that failure by the police to enforce existing rape laws and protecting rape victims from rape is a violation of domestic, regional and human rights laws. This is illustrated in a case where Liz, a 16 year old girl, was raped and thrown into a pit latrine and later when she identified three of her attackers, the men were only ordered to slash grass as punishment! Thank fully, justice prevailed and the accused were convicted and sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment.

We as a society have also failed in this cause. For instance, rape victims are considered pariahs and are stigmatized to the point that they are even accused of bringing the misfortune upon themselves. This usually has the effect of intimidating the victims into silence. Families and communities constantly protect the attackers by use of council of elders, justifying the attackers’ actions or keeping quiet about it. This only serves to empower these rapists who then go on to perpetuate the vice.

This situation should come to a stop. We need to unite and speak out. Victims should be encouraged to come out and seek justice against their attackers. As a society, we should stop keeping silent and instead should work together to curb this vice. The existing laws should be tightened so as to seal any loopholes which rapists can use to sneak through and the agencies mandated to enforce these laws should be kept accountable so as to carry out their duties. I believe that if we do the above, we can finally kick out the rape culture in Kenya.

Do you agree with? Do you think that I am wrong? Or do you have alternative solution? Comment below and I look forward to your feedback.

Oh, and in other news, Beyoncé sneezed.

Cheers!

SMILE

Hi guys. To my Muslim brothers and sisters, Ramadan Kareem. So it’s been a long time since I last posted anything. So the last two months have been pretty busy, what with the strike and then exams which literally sapped me dry. I swear that I felt like a human survivor of a vampire invasion after every paper! Makes me wonder what I’ve been doing for close to four months. That’s a story for another day. Thanks heavens the year is over. Time to sleep in peace. Finally!
Anyway, is it just me or has anyone else noticed a sudden feeling of sadness in the air? Everywhere I go these days feels like there’s a dark cloud hovering above me. It’s almost like the dementors have abandoned their guarding duties at Azkaban and have instead shifted base to Kenya. Speaking of Harry Potter, there’s a new installment coming out this July in the form of a play titled “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”. I am so excited about it as I can’t wait to see what happened to the Potterverse characters and their various offspring. (Spoiler alert, Harry Potter’s son may join Slytherin. AWESOME!) I was also sorted into Slytherin so it’ll be cool seeing the next generation of Potters wearing the same green jersey as me. You can also get sorted by visiting https://www.pottermore.com and beginning your sorting process. Also, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them hits the big screen this November – on the 18th to be precise – so am real psyched to see how Newt Scamander came across all those marvelous creatures. The synopsis of the movie states that this movie could have more than just chasing after magical creatures and could actually offer an allegory to real life discrimination and human conflict so it seems like a real keeper. Oh, and the movie marks J.K Rowlings screenwriting debut! Excited shriek! Don’t worry, I just needed an excuse to rant about the fictional universe of Harry Potter.
Back to the issue at hand. It seems like we are all in a bad mood nowadays. The economy isn’t looking so positive, there’s no money, the threat of Al Shabaab looms large, banks are collapsing at almost the same rate as buildings being constructed, Donald Trump may be elected the next president of the United States and the national coffers seem to be growing even thinner due to the efforts of a few unscrupulous individuals who have been entitled with the responsibility of leading us. Leading voices are being assassinated, scandals of all manners are exposing the moral decay of the Kenyan society and residents of University Way have been accustomed to a weekly holiday as a result of T.G.M (Tear Gas Monday). And Batman v Superman was a monumental disappointment so that also really pulled down our spirits.
However, I’m not here to offer a solution to these problems. Instead, I want us to focus on something else. I want us to smile. I know some of us have browning teeth – yours truly included – but that should not prevent anyone from smiling.
Some may ask why we should smile. Nothing seems right so smiling is not ideal for the moment. Well, I just came across an article that states that, among other benefits, smiling makes one more attractive. Yes, you read that right. So if you are into all things beauty – or are searching for that special somebody – smile more. Smiling also lowers stress and anxiety and strengthens one’s immune system as shown by a study that found that hospitalized children who were visited by puppeteers and story-tellers who made them smile and laugh had higher white blood cells counts than those who weren’t visited. I am not comparing you to children but I think you get the gist of my argument.
There may not be a lot of reasons for us to smile but the few that there are – the gift of family, good health, a simple breath –should be enough to make us smile. So when you read this, smile – or draw a large grin across your face – and I promise that you will have a better day than if you don’t.
Of course, I can’t complete this piece without paying tribute to arguably the greatest athlete of all time so I’ll leave you with a few words of wisdom from THE GREATEST. May you rest in peace Muhammad Ali!
I love hearing from you so don’t forget to comment and give a big thumbs up if you liked this piece. Cheers!
“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
~Muhammad “The Greatest” Ali (Boxer, Activist, Musician, Cultural Icon, 1942-2016)

A prayer for a comrade

It’s turning out to be a very emotional week for me this week. But it’s not about me that am writing this post. It’s about my fellow students. My comrades. My friends.

I was reading the feature story of the DN pullout in the Daily Nation of Wednesday 6th April 6, 2016. It is the story of a girl who was caught in the terrorist attack at Garissa University College on 2nd April 2015. It was a touching story of pain, suffering and resilience. In her, I saw the constant struggle to survive. I saw the pain we go through. I saw the fear we live through. I saw my roommates. I saw my friends. I saw every student in every university in the country. I saw myself.

In the past year, university students have been under siege from forces both internal and external. We have experienced loss at massive levels. We have lost properties. We have lost friends. We have lost loved ones. We have lost time. Dare I say it, we have lost hope.

A walk around the various universities will reveal a sense of tension, desperation, frustration and fear. We are all living on a knife’s edge. That, combined with the pressures of our education, is having a negative mental strain on the students’ psyche. This, in my humble opinion, could be contributing to what could be described as a spike in student unrest and violence among students. It’s like every week seems to have new negative reports on the state of the comrade. Sure, there are some positive and inspiring stories here and there but they are so few and far apart that they are almost non-existent.

Of particular interest to me is the University of Nairobi unrest. As you are all aware, the University of Nairobi is on indefinite closure. This is as a result of the disputed students’ elections which were marred by violence and claims of rigging by some candidates. There has been massive destruction of property and injuries to students in the university. It’s like a scene from Sarafina.

On the surface, it seems like a minor issue among students that has been blown out of proportion. Just some students who have decided to take their childish and fiendish hooliganism to the streets. I mean, haven’t we seen this scenario being repeated regularly whenever students think they have a reason to protest? But have you sat down to evaluate the situation differently. In my perspective, I think that this is case of the students just expressing themselves and releasing their frustrations. Their frustrations at a system that pressures them to perform in their exams or else they’ll have to do the dreaded supplementaries. Their frustrations at leaders who seem hell bent on holding on to power at all costs. Their frustrations at the complexities of the world. Their frustrations at life in general. In addition to these issues, there is also the issue of lack of concern for the students from the general public. A majority of the people I have talked to are curious as to the cause of the unrest but are indifferent, even callous, towards the students’ grievances. How sad considering that these very people are busy saying that students, and the youth in general, are the leaders of tomorrow and yet they are not bothered about their well-being.

It’s not easy to suggest one specific remedy to these issues since the situation is too complex to judge on face value. However, I believe that it would help if we showed the students that they are not alone. Now, am not asking for sympathy, but rather for empathy. When you see a student out there, pat him/her on the back and tell that it will get better. And remember to offer a prayer for a comrade. God knows how much we need it. Cheers!

GRAMMAR

What did I want to talk about? Honestly, I have so much on my mind that I don’t know what to talk about. In fact, I think that’s the problem. I am too indecisive. So you know what? I’ll start again. I’ll go to my room and stare at the wall till some brilliant idea strikes me like a bolt of lightning. Okay, hell is more likely to freeze over before I am struck with some bright idea. Wait Victor, hell? Really ? Isn’t that a little too extreme. Maybe, but I am too carefree to care. There I go again. There’s me airing my dirty laundry out in the open for the entire world to see – read actually. Sigh, too bad.
So let’s talk about something interesting. Let’s talk about grammar. You read that right – grammar. Wait, before I continue, let me give you this chance to leave. Actually, run for the hills. Run like your life depends on it. You’re not gone? Sure? Okay, fine. Disclaimer though, if you fall asleep halfway through this text, it’s not my fault. Rather, it’s your brain that kept you here. Cool? Good.
Now, grammar. What do I talk about in grammar? Do I talk about spelling? Or pronunciation? Or semantic and syntax? Wait, are those even part of grammar? I don’t know, am just Vic the Jackal. For the correct information, consult a library. Or a dictionary. Or a teacher for all I care. Oh I know, I’ll talk about people’s grammatical errors. Don’t roll your eyes. Or roll them – I don’t care, I have a really high self-esteem that you can’t break. (Stifled laugh)
Have you ever encountered a piece of written text so bad that you wanted to flush it down the toilet and destroy the toilet so that you never encounter it again? Not this one, another one. Well I have. Lots of them in fact. Enough to make me swear off reading. Hmm, that probably explains why I haven’t picked up a book in months. Story for another day. Back to my story. There’s friend of mine – name withheld – who’s so notorious I think I’ll christen her (of course it’s a her) Bad English. Or Typo. Yeah, that sounds better, don’t you think? So Typo it is.
Typo’s a university student so that makes her mistakes all the more painful. She is so horrible that when her birthday came up, she was wished a long life so that she could correct all her typing mistakes! The worst part of it was that her gratitude speech was full of typos so I pretty much died there and then. Literally speaking. In her defence, she says that it’s her fingers that make the mistakes and not her. Which then begs the question, does she have itchy fingers or something? Or maybe she suffers from fingerosis typosis. Just saying. Don’t look that up by the way.
But for me, I don’t blame Typo. I mean, she’s just a representation of the larger Kenyan society. A society more likely to care for some meaningless tribal association than for their command of language. A society more likely to engage in debates over which team will win the English Premier League or which team to bet on than to engage in any meaningful literary discourse. This makes me respect Mr. Phillip Ochieng’ for his devotion to teaching an obstinate, pig-headed society proper English without as much as a thank you from the latter. Too bad. Speaking of, did you know that Mr. Ochieng’ , like yours truly, was an alumnus of  THE ALLIANCE HIGH SCHOOL? Proud moment right there.
But what’s the problem really? What made us so horrible at English and Swahili for that matter? Is it our happy-go-lucky nature that makes us so reckless with language? Or is it our education system? Were we drilled into being machines that wrote and spoke perfect language only for exams? That reminds me, I was reading somewhere that the stakeholders met to discuss ways of improving the system. Maybe even scrap the 8-4-4 curriculum. Good for them although the pessimist in me feels that is may be a case of too little too late. Just saying.
So, what’s my solution to this menace? Simple, read. Take a book and read. When writing something, take time to go through whatever it is you are writing before submitting it to an audience. I mean, no one ever died of a few seconds of proof reading. If you feel that you’re so horrible in English, then make use of the autocorrecting feature. Every device has it these days so why not use? I know, there are times that the autocorrect does more harm than good but it’s better than a text full of grammatical errors. If all those don’t work, then get someone to proof read for you. It never hurt to get some help you know.
Which reminds me, if you come across any grammatical errors in this piece of work, just ignore it, they are typos. Or you could blast me for them. Your choice.
Don’t forget to comment. Really looking forward to your feedback. Cheers!