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Saturday, September 08, 2007

I Was IN Tanzania When 11 Kenyan Robbery Suspects Were Killed

Guest post by Richard

Some days ago I was glorying in the wonderful performance of Kenyan athletes in Osaka, Japan. The medals they clinched put a spring in my step and I felt like shouting to all and sundry that I was Kenyan head to toe, ear to ear.

I felt like standing alongside key world statesmen on the ‘choicest’ podiums and make a speech in praise of Kenya; the enigma, the mystery behind our unwavering, unflagging and undaunted zeal, vim and vivacity.

In the East Africa region we’ve all along been the country offered as an example in a number of respects: economically (as a fast growing economy); people who are self-driven and ready to take up new challenges gracefully.

But all that is a thing of the past, well, almost. Some sections of the Kenyan populace have been trying to do all they can and could do to sully what has taken sweat and blood to build; what has taken years to nurture: the vintage Kenyan reputation.

I was in Dar es Salaam on Thursday 6th September, 2007, when I received the rather shocking news that 11 Kenyans had been shot dead in Moshi (a town in northern Tanzania) as they were planning to raid Exim Bank in the town.

The suspects were killed on Wednesday evening after a fierce exchange of fire between them and the Tanzania police. Among the arms found on their persons were an AK-47 rifle, bombs, bullet proof vests and 200 plus bullets

Among the killed suspects was a woman, a Hannah Nyakanyi Kingara, who hailed from Kiambu. The Daily Nation has reported today, Saturday 8th September 2007, that she was a Nairobi-based businesswoman while two others were on a police wanted list.

A month ago there was another exchange of fire between Kenyan robbers with the Tanzania police in Arusha (a town that neighbours Moshi in northern Tanzania) and two of the robbers were killed in the fierce gun-battles that lasted virtually six hours. They had been involved in a bank heist where they stole more than Tsh 200 million (approx. Ksh 10,526,315).

As I was in Tanzania when the recent event was reported in the media, I got to read the atmosphere and know one thing for sure: the good name of Kenya in the region was irreparably going up in smoke!

“Ni hawa wakenya tena, hivi mbona wanapenda kutuonea hivi,” was the lament of one Tanzanian.

Another one said, quite forcefully, “Ndiyo maana nawachukia hawa watu. Shirikisho la Afrika Mashariki hatulitaki kama haya ndiyo mambo tutakayokuwa tunakumbana nayo siku nenda rudi. Kila mtu akae kwao.” (It roughly translates to: “That’s why I hate these Kenyans. Tanzanians don’t need the East Africa Federation if these are some of the things we’ll have to put up with day in day out when the federation comes into existence.”

Does this state of affairs go to show the level of unrest, ‘anarchy’ and desperation that is hidden in many of our people’s minds? Or is it the spill over from the ‘anarchy’ and criminal acts that have ravaged Kenya for most of the last two years, especially?

If these criminal acts are not contained, then, the present level of mistrust prevalent between Kenya and Tanzania will double, triple, quadruple …ad infinitum.

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