At first, I never understood what was meant by the term ‘Nyumba Kumi’ and I wondered what the issue was with the 10 houses that our village chief kept discussing with my village members. I was curious to know what my elderly villagers met to discuss that made my mama say every Friday evening ‘Naenda mkutano ya nyumba kumi’ translated in Swahili as ‘I am going to the ten-house meeting’. Despite it being a taboo asking elders lots of questions in my community, I one day took a bold step and asked my mum what ‘Nyumba Kumi’ meeting all about.
I was glad that my mum took it positively and explained to me that Nyumba Kumi was an initiative by our government meant to create rapport between citizens and law enforcement agencies to fight insecurity. My mother further explained that it was not only meant to enhance vigilance in our community but the whole country through having families in every 10 households in an area know each other and have some basic details of their neighbors to easily foil major crimes, nabbing notorious gangs, counter-terrorism and improving peace in the community.
With the rising number of terrorist attacks remaining vigilant is the way to go, for we all are not aware of when the enemy plans to strike.
After further research, I realized that the Nyumba Kumi concept incepted in 2013 was hinged on the premise that citizens know their areas well and are therefore able to spot any suspicious or unusual activities which they then report to the police.
Historically the first terrorist attack in Kenya occurred on December 31, 1980, where the Jewish-owned Norfolk hotel was attacked by the Palestine Liberation Organization for Kenya aiding Israeli forces to carry out the Entebbe raid operation. No further attacks were experienced until, August 7, 1998, when the American Embassy was bombed by the Al-Qaeda terror group and 213 people lost their lives while many more were injured.
To this day the 1998 attack is still discussed as though it happened yesterday because the distress and impact were so great that the incident left an indelible mark of pain in people’s hearts.
Despite the shock, lately, Kenya has been experiencing attacks believed to be conducted by Somalia’s Al Qaeda affiliate Al Shabaab who have been forging attacks within short intervals, and it has become apparent to the security agencies that Kenya have become a terrorist targets.
Just as we prepare our homes every night incase a thief intrudes; I believe this is the readiness Kenyan’s need to apply in matters security and counter-terrorism.
With the rising number of terrorist attacks remaining vigilant is the way to go, for we all are not aware of when the enemy plans to strike. I appreciate the Nyumba Kumi Initiative as one approach to vigilance, which has aided in curbing criminal acts in our home areas. But this is not enough!
Let’s be vigilant in every environment we find our- selves in. In crowded places, worship centers, markets, malls, supermarkets, hotels and while traveling using public transport, vigilance is the word. Through being cautious and observant of suspicious items and faces we come across we may save many from falling prey to evil plans.