Kenya may seem like a world away, but Halifax’s Ntombi Mzimela-Nkiwane feels the heartache of her fellow African people this week.
Mzimela-Nkiwane—originally from South Africa—is organizing a candlelight vigil tomorrow evening at 6:30pm within Victoria Park. The vigil will be held in remembrance of the 142 students, three security officers and two security personnel killed on April 2 at Garissa University College in Kenya.
The massacre was carried out by Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group with ties to Al-Qaeda.
Mzimela-Nkiwane—a research assistant and student at Dalhousie University—is trying to raise local awareness of the tragedy through the vigil. “African lives are devalued globally, and that’s what a lot of speakers on Saturday will be speaking about,” she says. “It’s high time we value our own lives as African people.”
She’s not alone in her efforts. Determined to not have the victims remain faceless, #147notjustanumber has spread across social media. Friends and families have tweeted the names and pictures of fallen loved ones to emphasize their legacy.
Mzimela-Nkiwane says she’s hoping Saturday’s vigil will spur others to on-going action, not just when tragedies strike. “We need to take inspiration from groups across the world, and I’m hoping it will spark people to constantly be thinking about these things.”
According to Statistics Canada, there were more than 20,000 international students from Africa studying in Canada in 2013. Mzimela-Nikwane wants to motivate African people here in Halifax to make sure the voices of all Africans are heard in Western media. “African people themselves need to value themselves whether they are on the continent or part of the diaspora.”
Candlelight vigil for the 147 Kenyan victims of the Garissa University College massacre
Saturday, April 11, 6:30pm
Victoria Park, Halifax
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