Students trickle back to Kenya university nine months after massacre

Students trickled back on Monday for classes at a university in northeastern Kenya where at least 148 people were killed by Islamist gunmen nine months ago.

Security was tight but only around 20 students resumed classes at Garissa university, which had about 800 students before the massacre.

The high-profile assault on April 2, 2015 was the deadliest yet in Kenya by the Somali-led, Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab group. Nearly all the victims were students.

Emotions were mixed for those returning.

“I am very happy for the reopening… we went for our first lesson and we are really back to the university as normal,” said Shamza Abdi, a student.

“There are some memories of a lot of our friends we lost here, but despite what happened, life must go on… we just pray for our friends,” she added.

The gunmen had lined up non-Muslim students for execution in what President Uhuru Kenyatta described at the time as a “barbaric medieval slaughter”.

The massacre was Kenya’s deadliest attack since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi.

Most students, especially those who were not originally from Garissa, have transferred to other colleges. The students now returning are mainly those who come from the town, some 365 kilometres (225 miles) north of the capital Nairobi.

– Security tightened –

“We are really missing those students who were killed, and we are very bitter about it…the people of this area were really affected,” said Hassan Kune Mire.

“It is very important for us that learning has resumed, and that we shall continue with our education.”

University principal Ahmed Osman Warfa, speaking last week when teachers returned, said security had been tightened with a new police post built within the compound and a perimeter fence planned.

“I wish I was armed and trained on the use of firearms on that night, I would have fought with the attackers and at least ensure I have saved some of my students from their killers,” the principal said.

Witnesses last week gave evidence in the ongoing trial of five men accused of supporting the attack.

The four gunmen who carried out the massacre were all killed when Kenyan commandos stormed the building.

Survivors described how the laughing gunmen taunted their victims amid scenes of total carnage.

Students, some who had to play dead among the pools of blood of their friends until they were rescued, said the gunmen shouted “We have come to kill and be killed” as they prowled the student dormitories shooting those they found.

The Garissa attack followed the 2013 seige of the upmarket Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, when four Shebab gunmen killed at least 67 people.

Last month Kenyan police warned of the risk of fresh attacks by Shebab insurgents, claiming they had split into rival factions inside Kenya, with some shifting allegiance from Al-Qaeda to Islamic State.

The militants say their attacks are retaliation for the Kenyan military presence in Somalia and “war crimes” committed by Kenyan troops.

Inside Somalia, they fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu, which is protected by 22,000 African Union troops, including Kenyan soldiers.

Photo Credits : AFP

Garissa University Memorial concert

After the death of 148 people both students and security officers following the grisly attack at the Garissa University college, activists, artists, poets, friends, families, colleagues and Kenyans from all walks of life gathered at the freedom corner at Uhuru park gardens for a memorial concert.

The memorial was organised by Boniface Mwangi and friends who got overwhelming support from corporates and other well wishers.

The concerts saw perfomances by poets who recited their pieces of spoken word, singer Amos and Josh performed their song Baadaye alongside Rabbit as a tribute to the fallen.

Some of the performances brought the crowd to tears despite the fact that some of the attendees were not familiar with any of the victims but chose to stand with their families and friends.

There was a board that had 148 masks with names representing each of the victims of the attack.

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Image – Garissa University Facebook page
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Image – Garissa University Facebook page

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Image courtesy of Vincent
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Image courtesy of Vincent
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Image courtesy of Vincent

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#147isnotjustanumber Uhuru park vigil (photos)

A prayer meeting was held at the freedom corner at the Uhuru park for the victims of the Garissa University attack.

Here is a photo summary of what happened.

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Images of some of the students who were killed
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Board with pictures of the slain students
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Students who survived the attack came to pay tribute to their departed friends
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Families, friends and members of the public, put up 147 crosses to represent each of the departed
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A man lights a candle to represent the life of one of the deceased students
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Students from Maseno University
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Graffiti art at the freedom corner
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Graffiti artist drawing a tribute in honour of the deceased

 

Credits : Boniface Mwangi /KOT 

 

#147isnotjustanumber vigil at Uhuru Park

Following the death of 147 people in a gun attack at the Garissa University, the Kenyan online community has come up with the harsh tag #147isnotjustanumber  used to show solidarity with the families, friends and colleagues of the people who died.

The attack that was reminiscent of the Westgate attack has led to the condemnation of our security forces and the manner in which they conducted themselves during the attack.

Today Tuesday 7th April starting from 5pm to 9pm Kenyans from all walks of life led by activist Boniface Mwangi, family and friends of the deceased have organised a vigil at the Uhuru park Freedom corner in honour of the departed.

There will be a board that will be used to put up photos and hand written notes, cards etc to remember the lives of the students who’s dreams were cut short by the attackers.

They will also remember the lives of the policemen and security guards who died in the line of duty and will later hold a prayer for the families, friends and colleagues of the departed.

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Somalia’s Shebab warn Kenyan public of ‘long, gruesome war’

Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab Islamists threatened Kenyan citizens with “another bloodbath” on Saturday, two days after their gunmen slaughtered 148 people at a university.

“We will, by the permission of Allah, stop at nothing to avenge the deaths of our Muslim brothers until your government ceases its oppression and until all Muslim lands are liberated from Kenyan occupation,” the Shebab said in a statement.

“And until then, Kenyan cities will run red with blood… this will be a long, gruesome war of which you, the Kenyan public, are its first casualties.”

The day-long siege on Thursday of the university in the northeastern town of Garissa was Kenya’s deadliest attack since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi, and the bloodiest ever by the Shebab militants.

The Shebab, in an emailed statement written in good English, and which was confirmed genuine by a spokesman via telephone, described how they had specifically singled out non-Muslims to kill, gathering them together before executing them.

Survivors who hid from the attack have recounted how the gunmen called on people to come out of their dormitory bedrooms and lie on the ground face down, but then killed them.

A photograph seen by AFP from inside the building showed over 50 students killed lying down on the ground.

“The mujahedeen stormed the university compound and swiftly proceeded to the halls of residence where they had gathered all the occupants,” the statement added.

“And since the attack targeted only non-Muslims, all Muslims were allowed to safely evacuate the premises before executing the disbelievers.”

The statement also described what it called “unspeakable atrocities against the Muslims of East Africa” by Kenyan security forces, both in Kenya’s northeastern ethnic Somali region and in southern Somalia, when Nairobi sent troops in 2011 to battle the Islamists.

The gunmen in Garissa wanted to “avenge the deaths of thousands of Muslims killed at the hands of the Kenyan security forces,” the statement added.

The Kenyan government has vowed that it would not be “intimidated”.

But the Shebab also warned the public they would be targeted in “schools, universities, workplaces and even in your homes” as they had elected the government.

“Choices have consequences; you chose your government out of your own volition so endure the consequences of your actions, for you will bear the full brunt of its follies,” the statement read.

“Not only are you condoning your government’s oppressive policies by failing to speak out against them, but are reinforcing their policies by electing them. You will, therefore, pay the price with your blood.”

Photo Credits : AFP

Witnesses recount horror of Kenya university attack

An explosion followed by gunfire woke students at Garissa’s Moi University in Kenya before dawn on Thursday morning.

At around 5:30 am (2:30 GMT) an unknown number of masked gunmen began an assault by tossing explosives at the main gate before storming a nearby girl’s hostel.

More than 800 students attend the university and sleep in dormitories on the sprawling campus on the outskirts of the town in northeast Kenya.

“We were sleeping when we heard a loud explosion that was followed by gunshots and everyone started running for safety,” said student Japhet Mwala.

“There are those who were not able to leave the hostels where the gunmen headed and started firing, I am lucky to be alive because I jumped through the fence with other students,” said Mwala.

Another student, Katherine — who did not want to give her full name — said that when she first heard the explosion and gunfire, “we thought that it was power problems”.

But soon the horror of being caught up in the latest attack by the Al-Qaeda aligned militants from neighbouring Somalia dawned on her.

– We thought warning was April Fool –

“We started running away,” she said. Katherine and other students fled their hostels and ran to nearby fields where they hid as the gunfire continued.

Rosalind Mugambi also fled to the fields with other students and “bullets following us”. She said some of her friends were injured by the gunfire.

“We saw some blood stains and they were shot,” she said.

Garissa, around 150 kilometres (90 miles) from the Somali border, has suffered chronic insecurity for years, fuelled by political and business rivalries, and the conflict in neighbouring Somalia which has driven hundreds of thousands of refugees to live in the nearby Dadaab camps.

Numerous grenade attacks have been blamed on Shebab, but Thursday’s attack was the first time Shebab gunmen have carried out an armed assault in the town. After moving into the university the attackers separated some students according to religion, allowing the Muslims to leave and taking an unknown number of Christians hostage.

Students said that notices had been posted around the campus warning that an attack was possible.

“There were reports of an attack the whole week and even the university administration was informed,” said Nicholas Mutuku.

“But it is like everyone didn’t take it seriously, because it was not the first time such reports were emerging.”

Some who saw the warning notices a day ahead of the attack thought they were an April Fool’s prank.

“Yesterday there were those notices, but as it was April 1, we just thought that it was fooling,” said Katherine.

Photo Credits : AFP

Kibaki sh4.6 Billion library gift to Makerere University

Former President Mwai Kibaki will Saturday become the first head of state to build a presidential library at his alma mater, or university where he once studied. The multi-billion-shilling facility is based at Makerere University, Uganda.

According to information released by the university on Monday, the facility will cost US$50 million (Sh4.5 billion). Of this, $40million will go to the Presidential Library and $10million to the Mwai Kibaki-endowed Chair in Economics.

“The HE Mwai Kibaki Presidential Library will be the first presidential library built by a former president at his alma mater. It will also be the first library in Africa to have an endowed chair in economics,” the deputy Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, Prof Barnarbas Nawangwe, said.

Makerere Chancellor George Mondo explained that the university chose Kibaki because he was the first African to graduate there with a 1st Class Honours Degree in the Arts, in 1955.

He added that Kibaki was also the first African to graduate with distinction in the BSc Public Finance programme at the London School of Economics in 1958.

Mondo also cited Kibaki’s decision to return and serve his alma mater from 1958 to 1960 as Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Economics and Political Science, “instead of taking up other, lucrative offers”.

He said this was “commendable and worthy of recognition”.

 

UoN ranked 7th in Africa

The University of Nairobi is the best in Kenya, according to the just-released ranking of world universities by Webometrics. The site ranked UoN 7th in Africa and 855 in the world.

In East Africa, UoN beat Uganda’s Makerere University (position 13), the University of Dar es Salaam (37), Kenyatta University (38) and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (44).

The performance is the best result posted by any local university since the advent of web ranking in 2004. Among private institutions, Mt Kenya University improved from last year’s position 10 to 8. This means MKU is the third best private university in Kenya after Strathmore and Africa Virtual University.

“Our concerted efforts at improving access to e-learning and sharing information through electronic formats are continuously bearing fruit,” said MKU vice chancellor Stanley Waudo. “This impressive ranking accentuates our other successes on the ICT front.”

Two previous rankings placed the university at positions 12 and 20 nationally and fourth among private universities. KCA University and Maseno close the top 10 rankings.

 

KCA University building closed down over Sh0.9m rate arrears

Nairobi City County closed down the building housing KCA University on Monrovia Street to recover rate arrears on Wednesday. “In the matter of section 18 of the renting act… notice is hereby that Kalson Properties owes the county government Sh963,339,” read a sign outside the building.

Edin Osman, a business next to the Bazaar along Moi Avenue, was clamped down for owing Sh918,454. Ten other establishments are set for closure Wednesday, officials in charge of the operation said.

The county took over six businesses, including Rayan Hotel and Restaurant on Banda Street, last week. The restaurant was closed down over a debt of Sh999,521, alongside a business on Luthuli Avenue over Sh405,320, and another on Munyu road for Sh371,353.

Officials said the businesses will be handed back to owners once the debts are paid. The tenants will pay rent directly to City Hall until the arrears are cleared, said Deputy head of revenue Shaban Asman. Revenue collection chairman John Ntoita said 25 building owners owe Sh28billion.

 

Multimedia University Closed Indefinitely As Students Riot Over Wifi Outages

Multimedia University has been closed indefinitely after students rioted Sunday night causing destruction to school property and causing traffic on Mbagathi road because of internet outages in the school.

Amb. Prof. Festus Kaberia , the senate board chair issued the interno memo stating, “Following the student unrest that took place on 8th February, 2015 around 7.30pm causing extensive damage to University Property and disrupting traffic on Magadi road, the University Senate has met today 9th February, 2015, deliberated on the matter and resolved to close the University indefinitely.”

The school that gave the students up-to 12 noon to vacate the premises will communicate the official re-opening dates. Here are some photos of the damage and the internal memo.

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Varsity student commits suicide

A law student of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology committed suicide in Kericho town on Tuesday.

Kevin Kipkurui, 22, was found dangling from a rope in a kiosk near his home.

He reportedly went missing after breakfast.

Kericho police commander Rose Muchuma said Kipkurui’s reason for the suicide is unknown.

Muchuma said a suicide note was not found at the scene.

“Efforts to get his mobile phone for the police to check whom he last spoke to bore no fruits,” she said, adding that investigations are underway.

She said Kipkurui would have graduated this year.

His body was taken to Siloam hospital mortuary.