By Jeanne Ongiyo
The wall of Jerusalem was built between 1535 and 1538 and surprisingly the wall stands unshaken to date. This should serve as inspiration for all the ‘doubting Thomases’ that are against the building of the proposed Kenya-Somalia border wall. A border wall worked in medieval times, protecting Jerusalem from her enemies so why wouldn’t it work now? And it is not the only border wall to be built in history.
The Great Wall of China was opened in 206 BC and served as a deterrent to raiding nomads who terrorized the Chinese empire. It was also used to regulate movement in and out of the empire as well as serve as an early warning system against impending attacks. Believers in the wall will say this is evidence that the wall should work if security agencies implement a proper plan to reinforce the structure of the wall such as sentries, patrols and the like. Doubters will remind us that we have featured unfavorably on the corruption index.
There is also the Berlin wall which was the embodiment of the struggle between Communist East and Capitalist West. Years after it was demolished stories still live on of brave heroes and heroines who dared to cross from East Germany to the more enticing West, evidence that a wall cannot break the will to cross it. See the American-Mexican border wall. Drugs, illegal immigrants and illegal weapons still cross over to the land of the free almost unimpeded.
The government will ask one to bear with them. If we can tolerate our missing roundabouts then we can surely bear with the idea of a border wall. After all, with the advanced technology and skilled labor we have now the wall is sure to be stronger than Samson with knee-length hair.
Here is why this wall idea will never work in terms of security.
More often than not, investigative journalists have showcased features where law enforcement agents manning the Kenya- Somali border have been involuntarily deterred from their duty to serve and protect the nation from external attacks. Involuntarily? Yes, involuntarily. It’s no riddle now that policemen are underpaid and they have resorted to other ‘side-hustles’ to supplement their meager salary. Some of these ‘side-hustles’ include accepting bribes from intruders from Somali who are in turn allowed illegal entry into the country. These intruders come armed to the tooth with all manner of crude as well as sophisticated weapons ready to wage their attacks. Security can be traded away for an amount as little as 10,000 Kenya shillings, an exchange for the lives of over 40-million unsuspecting Kenyan citizens.
Building this wall will not assure Kenyans of their security as it is common logic that no matter how high, long or thick a wall is the terrorists have always found their way through all set barriers. Walls built of strong brotherhood and solidarity to one’s country have time and again been penetrated by these terrorists who have gone as far as recruiting our own countrymen to wage attacks against Kenya. So what makes us think a wall will be the long awaited solution?
The wall will probably cost an outrageous amount which will be obtained from the taxpayer who is already depressed by the current economic state of the country, millionaires and peasants alike.
I am of the opinion of enforcing security along the border with the help of the special trained forces of the army and the police equipping them with adequate and proper functioning weapons fit for war. As motivation, the millions of shillings we intend on using to build the wall should instead be channeled to improving the living standards of these law enforcement agents and give them a decent pay proportional to the service they offer the nation.
I believe in providing solutions to problems but building a wall to protect us from attacks is not a solution to the problem we have. We ideally build walls to uphold privacy and in some instances prevent intrusion from ordinary trespasser, not trespassers who come wielding guns and bombs at the slightest laxity in terms of the state of security. We should however show appreciation for the creative mind behind this bright idea that came in one of the dullest moments in Kenya’s history. It is bright but unfortunately not bright enough to cast light on the problem at the end of the tunnel.
By Jeanne Ongiyo