Of the 148 lives brutally massacred by Al-Shabaab militants on April 2nd at Garissa University College in Kenya, none will be able to answer this simple question taken from a poem by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Mary Oliver.
Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? – Mary Oliver
The Garissa attack killed young people—mostly aged 19 to 23 years—robbing many families of their best and brightest minds on whose shoulders rested high hopes and aspirations. These were students and dreamers pursuing their ambition for a better life.
Education under attack
What’s devastating is that Kenyans are fiercely proud of education. Families often make great financial sacrifices to put their children through school and university with the hopes of giving them a better life, as illustrated by these accounts from grieving loved ones.
“In my home there are no cows. I sold them to pay his school fees,” said Stanley Maina Waiharo, who lost his firstborn son, John Mwangi Maina, 22. “I took a loan of 200,000 shillings (£1,450) to educate my son so that he could have a better life than me.”
“My son Abel Mukhwana was the only person who had managed to join a university in our village. We were hopeful one day he would help change the fortunes of our society.”
Mary Oloo, the aunt of Peter Odhiambo, a 19-year-old economics student, was also grieving. “This boy who we will bury soon, this boy was going to help us board a plane one day,” she said.
Leah N Wanfula at 21 was the first of 9 siblings to go to university.
22-year-old Gideon Kirui’s whole village raised money for him to go to university.
Gone too soon, let’s honor the lives of these young people who died trying to get an education and to make a better life for themselves and their communities.
Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?