When the sparrows fell: Story of Garissa attack
Title: When the Sparrows Fell Compiled by: Lucas Owako Publisher: Focus Kenya Reviewer: Vera Omwocha Extent: 123 Pages
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