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#weareone: blood donation, terrorism and dreams of inclusion in Kenya

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 March 2020

Abstract

This article examines responses to the terrorist attack on the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi in September 2013 in order to investigate the role played by blood donation, as an expression of national dreams, in the political imaginary of contemporary Kenya. It considers the symbolic effectiveness of calls for blood donation made by political figures in the aftermath of the attacks. Such calls drew on a tradition of donation drives begun in the early years of independence, which emphasized the modernizing imperative of the new state and the importance of unity, hard work and self-sacrifice in building the nation. However, the reaction to Westgate, including calls for blood donation, also needs to be understood with reference to the response of American and other leaders to equivalent terrorist attacks in more recent years. These elite dreams found resonance among ordinary citizens and blood donation recruiters. But they were also subjected to trenchant critiques that sought to expose the reality of the transfusion system, as well as the inequality and injustice that mark the general healthcare system and Kenyan society as a whole. These shortcomings were also highlighted by mobilization drives organized by Kenya's Somali and Asian communities both before and during the Westgate crisis. The latter are presented by their organizers as a means of overcoming historic exclusion and discrimination.

Résumé

Résumé

Cet article examine des réponses à l'attaque terroriste qui a visé le centre commercial Westgate de Nairobi en septembre 2013 afin d'examiner le rôle joué par le don de sang, en tant qu'expression de rêves nationaux, dans l'imaginaire politique du Kenya contemporain. Il étudie l'efficacité symbolique des appels aux dons de sang lancés par des figures politiques à la suite de l'attaque. Ces appels s'inspiraient d'une tradition de campagnes de don qui ont débuté dans les années qui suivirent l'indépendance, qui mettaient l'accent sur l'impératif de modernisation du nouvel État et sur l'importance de l'unité, de l'effort et de l'abnégation dans la construction de la nation. Cependant, il convient également de comprendre la réaction à l'attaque de Westgate, y compris les appels aux dons de sang, en référence à la réponse des dirigeants américains et autres à des attaques terroristes équivalentes plus récentes. Ces rêves d’élites ont trouvé une résonance chez les citoyens ordinaires et les recruteurs de dons de sang. Mais ils ont aussi fait l'objet de critiques incisives visant à exposer la réalité du système de transfusion, ainsi que l'inégalité et l'injustice qui marquent le système général de santé et la société kényane dans son ensemble. Ces carences ont également été soulignées par des campagnes de mobilisation organisées par les communautés somaliennes et asiatiques du Kenya avant et durant la crise du Westgate. Ces campagnes sont présentées par leurs organisateurs comme un moyen de surmonter l'exclusion et la discrimination historiques.

Type
Generative fictions
Copyright
Copyright © International African Institute 2020

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