Why we need to remember t****atic events

Friday, January 22nd, 2021 00:00 | By
Former US President Donald Trump. Photo/Courtesy

What has happened before can always happen again. That is why it is so important to remember and to build a memorial to remind us of the past; to warn us against bad judgements that we may have made and to stir us towards all that is good. 

This week is extra ordinary in many ways. Two days ago, the 45th president of the United States of America walked away from the White House, a place he had called his residence for the last four years and which he found too hard to leave behind. 

By many estimates, the damage that Donald Trump had wrought to that hallowed office were many and he had to go after the voters made their verdict.

If the institutions of that land were not strong enough to resist his incessant attempts to extend his stay, the result could have been a protracted battle between his ardent followers and the will of the American people.

In Africa, we have witnessed this struggle too many times in the past to get surprised now.

We have witnessed so much bloodshed from Accra in Ghana across the desert sands and the tropical forest of Africa’s heartland to Harare in Zimbabwe.

Every time it happens, we say never again. But then it happens again and the pattern repeats itself.

Occasionally we rise to build monuments and memorials to remind and warn us of our dark past.

Rwanda, in the heart of the continent, with her genocide memorial, has set for Africans the standard of crafting a permanent memorial.

The other extra ordinary event this week probably passed by with little fanfare in the continent.

That is not surprising. The holocaust took place many decades ago, in the far away Europe and for many Africans it only stirs academic interest.

But the holocaust was no intellectual enterprise. A hostile European power, Germany, then led by Adolf Hitler, led the extermination of Jews leading to the death of six million of them.

It is estimated that about two out of every three Jews in Europe were killed in the process.

It was a harrowing experience that has since been captured in films, movies, stories and songs. 

These instruments of storing knowledge still fail to capture the horror that was the holocaust.

Men and women hunted down their homes and the streets, herded to gas chambers and executed simply for being Jews. 

We do well to remember. This week, the School of International Relations at Daystar University hosted both the representatives of German and of Israeli embassies and other UN representatives in Kenya to remember the events of some 76 years ago.

The lesson is that this experience should not be in vain, and the world should not be sufficiently deluded to repeat it. 

Every now and again a leader emerges with a delusional worldview and abandons all the known principles of moral leadership with far reaching consequences for the world. But similarly, it is from the ashes of such waste that hope arises to right the wrong.

It is befitting that such traumatic experiences be memorialised in Kenya because we have our own tendency of flying too close to the sun while wearing wings of wax.

Rwanda had the scarring experience 27 years ago. But that has not stopped other countries tempting fate.

The events of nearly 15 years ago, when elections in Kenya were disputed leading to over 1,000 deaths, is the closest we have come to this disaster. It is always good to remember that we are not special.

Universities are spaces where minds are formed and future leaders are molded. If anybody needs to be reminded of the evil that mankind is capable of then these students are prime candidates.

As they prepare for work in peace and diplomacy, they need a constant reminder that things can go very wrong. It is all in their hands and they need to remember what previous hands have done.  —  The writer is dean, School of Communication, Daystar University

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