In a fiery blaze of glory, Kenyan leaders burned over 5,000 guns in hopes of curbing the ongoing struggle of illegal firearms. The flickering mass looked more like a ritual bonfire than a pile of weapons, reaching over 15 feet high with three stacks of guns ready to go up in flames.
Deputy President William Ruto orchestrated the blaze of rifles and pistols to prove that the Kenyan government is committed to protecting its people. It is thought that nearly 500,000 illegal guns are owned by civilians. These guns are used for a broad range of activities including cattle raids, extremist attacks, crime, robbery and even murder. But will this drop in the hat do any good on the illegal firearm trade in Kenya? Experts believe that while it is a good indication of the direction of the country’s commitment to the problem, many are worried that it will become the next “drug war” without an end in sight.
Ruto disagrees, stating, “Firearms in the hands of wrong people continue to violate our peace and stability and become a threat to the security of our country. Armed violence, community conflict, cattle rustling, poaching, violent crime is what makes this illegal firearm dangerous for our country,” he said. “All the ills of our society, from terrorism, human trafficking, drug trafficking, are promoted in a big way by illicit firearms in the wrong hands,” he said.
One thing is clear; Kenyans are feeling hopeful about the future and what it means for the government to be making the right steps toward a safer region. Whether or not this one bonfire will have an impact remains to be seen; however, it does mark the beginning of a new era and at the very least sends a message to illegal trade dealers that their profit is in jeopardy.