Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thoughts on terrorist threats

I was laying in bed Friday evening checking emails on my phone just as I was about to close my eyes for the day when a dear friend, who lives in another part of the country, forwarded me a message that the US Embassy had just sent out to its citizens. It was an emergency travel alert urging all Americans in Mombasa to leave immediately. They ordered all government workers to leave the city immediately and they suspended all government travel to Mombasa until July 1st. The reason: they had reason to believe that there was an 'imminent terrorist threat' in the city.

We have been under terrorist watch since October. It's almost old news now. There have been a few random bombings here and there around the country including two in Mombasa. Security has been beefed up. I get checked for bombs everywhere I go now, including church.

 After reading this email, I thought 'no big whoop' but as I tried to shut my eyes, it kept nagging at me. This was more serious. For the american government to be evacuating all its government officials so suddenly means that something must be cooking. I started to get a little worried.

Kelvin climbed into bed and I told him. He looked at me and said, 'are you worried?' I sort of shook it off like, 'Nah, not really.' But it did bother me. I kept thinking about how, the next day, I had plans to travel up and about the city like a mad woman and what would happen if there was an attack. I didn't sleep very well.

Nevertheless, we got up in the morning and went about our day. Around noon, I got another text message saying that even BBC has profiled the US's terror alert. Yikes!! A travel warning for Kenya has never made headlines on BBC. This must be serious. I began to get a little panicked but decided to continue through my day. I prayerfully travelled from one place to another. The crazy down pour didn't help the already tense atmosphere. I made it home safe that evening.

The warning made the top story on all the local news channels striking fear in the hearts of all Americans. Yah, it made me a little nervous. I decided that it can't run my life but I can be a bit more cautious of where I go. I decided to avoid large shopping centres and the downtown area as much as possible.

You know when you are purposely not doing something and then the temptation to do it gets even stronger? Its like when someone says, 'don't push that button!' and then all of a sudden the temptation to push it gets even stronger? So I made this rule that I wouldn't hit up any large shopping mall but I just couldn't resist. I caved and we went for ice cream at the mall Sunday morning. The ice cream sundae seemed to melt away my fears for a while.

Sunday night, a shady local bar was bombed in the outskirts of Mombasa. It wasn't exactly the attack I was looking for. It seems like someone just took advantage of the fear and decided to throw a few grenades.

It's now thursday and all is calm. I have heard of a few americans cancelling their trips to Mombasa but thats it. It's high tourist season now(most tourists being from Europe) so it seems like the white people are streaming into the city instead of away from it. Every time I see one walking around I think to myself, 'don't they know there is a major terror alert!?' They don't seem bothered by it. Security is now extra-beefed up in high tourist areas.

Last night we went to a local bar to watch the semi-finals of the Euro. In all honesty, I thought to myself, "This is where someone would throw a grenade." I kept imagining it being thrown upstairs (where we were sitting). Yes, a little irrational.

The night ended in a penalty shoot out. Spain beat Portugal 4-2. Tonight, Germany plays. I think we will stay inside and watch it from home. Yah, that's a good idea.


  1. Hi, I can't remember how I found your blog but I just want to say that I love reading it. I used to live in Tanzania for around 5 years but have just returned to the UK. A lot of the things you write about are similar to what I have experienced in Tanzania and above all I think you write very well. I know it can be demoralising when people don't comment so just thought I'd stop by and say I'm reading and please keep going! And most of all keep safe!

    1. Hi! Thanks for commenting!!! I do appreciate it. What were you up to in Tanzania? I have lived in Mombasa almost 5 years but have yet to cross into Tanzania. One day...

    2. I studied at a wildlife college in Moshi for a year and then worked in Arusha for the rest of the time. I worked at a charity school that's providing a free education to around 1,500 kids, it was a great place to work. Now I'm back in England to complete a Masters course and finding it strange to adjust to life here. I kind of miss all the frustrations and joys that life in Africa tends to bring...I'm sure you know what I mean! I have been to Mombasa and loved it, apart from the heat! There's a border crossing south of Mombasa that takes you over to Tanga in Tanzania. From there you can visit the Usambara mountains which are close by and lovely, or further South to Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Pemba etc...I recommend it! Well, I hope things stay peaceful there for all Mombassans and foreigners alike. Keep safe! Anna