The attack at the university, condemned worldwide as a “massacre of humanity” for its cruelty, left wounds too deep to heal amongst the victims and the families of those killed in the attack.
Joy Wairimu, who survived the campus attack by crawling on the campus playground before jumping the fence with the assistance of town residents, said the recovery from the attack has been too slow and troublesome. Still too scared, Wairimu has since gone back to Garissa, but remains uncomfortable.
“I am still too afraid to live in campus,” Wairimu said, remembering her miraculous escape exactly a year ago, when the armed gunmen attacked the students as they embarked on their daily academic activity.
She decided to return to Garissa after the attack, when the institution re-opened to mostly privately-sponsored students pursuing various courses pending the admission of fresh students in Sept. 2016.
The Garissa University College community, including the lecturers, senior academic staff and managers have resumed work at the campus in readiness for its high season this September.
The depth of the scars suffered by the Garissa University community is evident from top academic staff leaders like Robert Machio, who recently rejoined the University’s academic staff.
“The more I stayed away, the more it pained me,” Machio told Citizen television, a day before the First Anniversary of the Garissa attack.
“It pains me seeing the names of those killed in the attack. I knew each and every one of them. They were all my students. They all passed through my hands.”
A plaque bearing the names of all the 148 people killed in the attack was officially unveiled on Saturday at a grand ceremony to mark the first anniversary of the attack.
The institution has already taken steps to heal some of the scars by granting alternative learning opportunities to the student survivors.
Most of the students were re-admitted to the Moi University, the parent institution sponsoring the Garissa University, located in Eldoret, northwest Kenya.
However, parents, among them, Isaack Mutisya, whose daughter died in the attack, doubt it would be easier for parents to easily consent to have students return to the College for the new academic year.
In the absence of a proper report on the circumstances leading to the attack, security experts still believe it would also be more difficult to pin-point the national security weaknesses that allowed extremists to plot and execute a major attack on a large student population.
The impact of the Garissa University attack has been felt in most other Kenyan universities.
One person died at the Strathmore University in Nairobi during a security drill to prepare the institution to respond and safely evacuate in case of an attack mounted “Garissa-style” on November 30, 2015.
In a similar panic, one student, died at the Kikuyu campus of the Nairobi University when an overloaded electric cable blast was mistaken for a terror bomb on April 12, 2015, days after the Garissa attack.
Kenyan security officials say major security changes have been undertaken since the Garissa University attack across the North Eastern region.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Thursday during his State of the Union address from Parliament the government would not bow to the dictates of terrorist groups “burning cities across the globe.”
“We responded robustly to these attacks,” President Kenyatta said, pointing out the tourism sector, which is one of the sectors worst-affected by the terror attacks, was on its road to recovery.
According to Kenyatta, cross-cutting security measures have been undertaken in the recent months to improve the war against terrorism by improving citizen participation in the fight against extremism.
He said equipment to help the Police improve on the counter-terrorism effort were supplied to the security sector. The Police have also been issued with body armours and other protective gear to effectively arm them to deal with the threat of active terrorism. Enditem