The government response to the attacks have been impotent at best and misguided at worst. The government responded in two ways- both uncoördinated first; the government instituted nyumba kumi- ten houses, initiative. The concept of Nyumba Kumi- know thy neighbor, which borrowed from Tanzania, was predicated on dividing the house holds into groups of ten, and people in those households hold each other accountable through sharing information on any suspicious activities or foreigners.
While the concept looks neat in theory, in practice, it is hardly the most useful way of addressing the ever-mutating threat of terrorists people with no return address. It could work in some probably rural setting where the residents tend to be less mobile unlike in urban areas like Nairobi and Mombasa where residency is fluid and transient owing largely to the economic pressure.
Secondly, the government conducted what it called Operation Usalama Watch. Under the operation, the state embarked on a large scale profiling of the Somali community. The community was de facto scapegoated for all the attacks and profiled, never mind, the community has born the brunt of the terrorist’s attacks, let alone the efficacy of collective punishment of a community.
During the operation over 4000 Somalis were arrested, and held in Kasarani football stadium- over two months latter, some are still held in the stadium under dehumanizing conditions.
President Kenyatta’s response after the Westgate attack september last year was a study in statesmanship the president sounded like a leader who had his hands on the pulse of the citizens. The president touched all the nodes after his young administration was tested. In the 6 1/2 mins the president rallied the country to collectively meet the threat of terrorism.
Here is the video
Following the Westgate attack the president said, terrorists want a , ” closed, fearful and a fractured society where trust, unity and enterprise are difficult to master”.
In his subsequent address to the nation following Sunday’s attack in Mpeketoni in Lamu County, the president did exactly that when he said, ”
“The attack in Lamu was well planned, orchestrated, and politically motivated ethnic violence against a Kenyan community, with the intention of profiling and evicting them for political reasons… This therefore, was not an Al Shabaab terrorist attack…Evidence indicates that local political networks were involved in the planning and execution of the heinous attacks”
In this speech which was almost 8 mins and slightly over 100 words, the president instead of uniting the country, he divided the country. He didn’t sound like the president of Kenya, but rather as the president of the TNA.
The president used word reckless four times, an implicit reference to Odinga and his party- here the president missed an opportunity to be presidential.