Garissa University marked two years since a terrorist attack on the institution that left 142 students dead.
Unlike last year’s ceremony, which was attended by local political leaders, this event was a low-key affair graced by students and a handful of people, most of them college staff.
The event kicked off with an early morning 15-kilometre marathon.
Unlike last year’s anniversary, there were no emotional accounts of the bloody massacre after heavily armed terrorists stormed a student’s hostel in the wee hours of the morning,
When the volley of gunfire died down after several hours on April 2, 2015, 142 students lay dead in one of the deadliest terrorist attacks on Kenyan soil.
Six workers at the university were also killed.
The hostel has since been renovated and renamed Ewaso Ng’iro’ as a way of shaking off the bad memories.
Prof Ahmed Warfa Osman, the college’s principal, said the university was making significant steps to recover from the attack.
The admission of 195 new students in September last year was a good sign that the university was on its path to recovery.
“We are trying as much as possible to forget the attack although it constantly brings bad memories,” he said.
Out of the 195 new students admitted under Government sponsorship, slightly over 100 are from outside the region.
Mr Samuel Karanja, a senior lecturer at the university, expressed confidence that the university was showing signs of recovery and growth.
It has however not been easy for new non-local students to fit in, especially with horrific memories of their fellow colleagues felled down by bullets.
Babu David from Kakamega said he was shocked upon receiving an admission letter to the college. His spirited efforts to change campuses hit a snag.
“In the first few weeks we could not concentrate in class. We could not even trust the police but now we have accepted we are students here until the end of our course. We pray and hope all will be well,” he says.
Kalekye Mwandikwa from Migwani, Kitui, who lost her son in the attack said she could not attend yesterday’s event as it brought back bad memories.
“The mention of Garissa alone evokes bad memories. I’m not sure I will visit again,” she said.
She lamented that the Government had abandoned parents of slain students after giving them only Sh100,000 to cater for burial expenses.
For those that survived the attack, it remains etched in their memories.
Anderson Owalla Ogolla, 22, a third-year student at Moi University- main campus, was one of them. He survived the attack by a whisker after gunmen shot him seven times and left him for dead.
His best friend Kevin Odongo was among those killed killed by the gunmen at 5.30 am.
Ogolla said he had forgiven his attackers.