When the spar­rows fell: Story of Garissa at­tack

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - WEEKEND - Fo­cus Kenya

Ti­tle: When the Spar­rows Fell Com­piled by: Lu­cas Owako Pub­lisher: Fo­cus Kenya Re­viewer: Vera Om­wocha Ex­tent: 123 Pages

Cost: Sh260

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Gun­shots. Ter­ror. Pain. Panic. Fear. Trauma. Blood. The smell of death. All are in­suf­fi­cient to de­scribe Garissa Univer­sity on the fate­ful April 9, 2015.

I landed on When the Spar­rows Fell when look­ing for lit­er­a­ture on the Garissa Univer­sity Col­lege ter­ror At­tack.

Done by Fel­low­ship of Chris­tian Unions (Fo­cus Kenya), this book doc­u­ments heart wrench­ing sto­ries of the sur­vivors and those who lost their loved ones. With the ac­counts are a roller coaster of emo­tions — pain, anger, help­less­ness and a ray of hope that “in death and in life, they have de­fied the at­tack­ers.”

The text starts off by lay­er­ing the back­drop of the North East­ern Kenya as a hos­tile area stem­ming from the ef­fects of the Shifta War (1964-1967).

The pic­ture of how the spar­rows fell prob­a­bly hangs above our brains and our minds refuse it res­i­dence: “As they lifted their hands and voices to God and metic­u­lously sprayed them with bul­lets, one af­ter an­other, their sounds of praise and prayer turn­ing into shouts of ter­ror and des­per­ate cries, un­til they all went silent.”

Told from a Chris­tian view­point, the writ­ers seem to em­pha­sise on stand­ing strong, for the ter­ror­ists can only kill the body and not the soul. But does such im­mense loss and pain sub­scribe to a re­li­gious sect?

“Though we die, we still live on. It is only our bodies that are in the mor­tu­ary; the soul lives on.”

There’s so much pain on th­ese pages; numb­ing pain and grief that seems too much for hu­man­ity to bear. Not just the pain of loss and grief but the pain of par­ents and rel­a­tives ‘study­ing fin­ger­nails’, ‘in­ter­ro­gat­ing what’s left of cheek­bones’, and ‘sift­ing through bodies’ to iden­tify their dead.

Bishop David Oginde is quoted to have men­tioned at the memo­rial ser­vice: “If there is a time when ev­ery per­son needed to re­con­sider their faith, it is this time. It would be a pity for any of us to die for be­ing a Chris­tian when you are not; be­cause it is very pos­si­ble, very pos­si­ble, that among those who died in Garissa Univer­sity, are many who died in the name of be­ing Chris­tians, but they were not. If we are to die for Christ, let us die for Christ.”

Verah Om­wocha is an ed­i­tor, writer, trained teacher and lit­er­ary en­thu­si­ast. She blogs about books and life at https://ve­raom­wocha.w or­d­press.com

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