Humanity’s Weakness – Too Much of Anything.
By Dorcas Sarkozy
This past Sunday October 1, the worst mass shooting in America’s history took place in of all places, “Sin City” aka Las Vegas.
A sixty-six-year-old white male trained his high-powered automatic rifle and picked off revelers attending a country music festival. The carnage was so total and victims so powerless that a CNN reporter who had spent time embedded with troops in Afghanistan and Iraq referred to the incident as akin to “shooting fish in a barrel”.
Listening and watching one particular video posted online, the shooter – Stephen Paddock – must have fired off close to twenty rounds of high-velocity bullets that travelled close to five hundred yards from the hotel – Mandalay Bay – across the multiple-laned Las Vegas Blvd towards their unsuspecting victims; this in a 15second video!
The morning after the massacre, President Donald Trump, reading off a teleprompter, offered an unusually somber and measured televised statement even as the White House, through Spokesperson Sarah Sanders-Huckabee said that it was “not the (right) time to talk about gun control”; this in response to the inevitable calls for stricter gun control measures that tend to follow such acts of violence.
Almost five years ago in December 2012, twenty-year old Adam Lanza, a white millennial turned his Bushmaster XM15-E2S AR-style (assault rifle) semi-automatic rifle and 10mm Glock 21 pistol onto elementary school children and their teachers in the quaint, idyllic and until-then-safe town of Sandy Hook, Connecticut. When the bullets stopped flying, 20 children between six and seven years old, as well as six adult staff members lay dead.
Before driving to the elementary school, Lanza had shot and killed his mother at their Newtown home.
Then-President Barack Obama referred to the massacre of the schoolchildren as the “most difficult day of his presidency”.
In a televised speech the day of the shooting, Mr. Obama implored Americans to “come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” And during the last year of his 2nd term – in June 2016 – Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard killed 49 club-goers and wounded 58. Mateen’s weapons of choice during the carnage inside the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida included a SIG Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle and 9mm Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol.
Having lived in both Kenya and America, I can say with confidence that Americans react to gun ownership and the corollary gun-related violence with a ho-hum shrug of the shoulders that Kenyans do when discussing corruption and theft of public resources/property.
It is never enough – gun ownership and gains gotten – both oftentimes illegally.
The Las Vegas murderer had eighteen guns in his hotel room in Vegas.
He had another twenty-three weapons in his home in a retirement community in Florida along with thousands of rounds of ammunition and for good measure, he had enough ammonia nitrate to make explosives!
Back in 2015, a decomposing body of a man later identified by neighbors only as “Bob” was found inside a sport utility vehicle parked in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of LA. While investigating his death, police came across a cache of two tons of ammunition and more than 1,200 high-end pistols, shotguns and rifles – in a room in his house.
Not to be outdone, 51-year-old South Carolinian Brent Nicholson was found with between 8,000 and 10,000 guns! Granted some of the firearms were reported stolen but 8000 guns?
It is rumored that the Kenyatta family has close to 500,000 hectares of some of the choicest (arable) land in Kenya – “The untold story of the Kenyattas’ wealth” – Standard January 2017.
Five hundred thousand hectares of land for one family!
To put this amount of land into perspective, consider that the one thousand nine hundred and thirty (1,930) square miles of land owned by the president’s family is more than seven times Nairobi’s 268 sq. miles.
It is just under 3x Kisumu County’s eight hundred and five miles square!
Daniel Branch (Kenya: Between Hope and Despair) writes that while the ivory trade was banned in 1974, illegal sale of the product still had an annual turnover of $10million (KSh.1bn).
And according to a NY Times article titled “Elephants Are Declining Rapidly In Africa” (Sept. 22, 1975), “the chief reason it has been difficult to assess or combat poaching is that, according to considerable evidence from private investigations, much of the illegal ivory trading is done by two members of the family of President Jomo Kenyatta…..his eldest daughter, Margaret Kenyatta, the Mayor of Nairobi, and his fourth wife, Mama Ngina Kenyatta.”
So aside from owning massive tracts of land, a near-monopoly of Kenya’s dairy market, a bank and media outlet, the same Kenyatta family was implicated in the KSh.5bn scandal that bedeviled the rag-tag and poorly-resourced Ministry of Health.
Corruption in Kenya, like gun violence in America is so common place that the two societies have normalized their occurrences.
President Uhuru Kenyatta for his part threw up his hands and asked Kenyans what they wanted him to do about the problem.
Boniface Wanyama Wekesa, a security guard in Nairobi offered a more sanguine take advising Kenyans that “if they were going to steal…..please, just steal a little.” (An Anticorruption Plea in Kenya: ‘Please, Just Steal a Little’ – NY Times – Nov 2015)
Voters in either society wring their respective hands whenever a corruption scandal is unearthed or a mass shooting occur.
Their respective leaders make solemn public pronouncements about doing whatever it takes to address the scourge – until the next incident occurs – then they repeat the cycle – all over again.