Just so it doesn't come across as supremely egoistic, there will be no footnotes or references. In fact, I doubt whether I will acknowledge the contributions of the great ones; I'll simply assume that you know who they are and make whatever judgment you will. Here goes nothing, then.
The aims of the Shabaab are not unknown to us, its methods are brutally familiar to us, and its capacities have yet to diminish since Kenya's "police action" in 2011 that is yet to come to a close. Taking a leaf from the pioneering work of Usama Bin Laden and the Blind Sheikh of New York, and carrying on from the ashes of the Islamic Courts Union, the Shabaab has employed every communications medium at its disposal to propagate its messages of hate. Whether Kenya's mainstream media reported the Shabaab's messages or not, it is almost certain that they would still proliferate, and not just in the anonymous terrain of the internet.
The Shabaab's campaign of terror is not an end in itself; it is not its intention to simply terrify Kenyans, and others, and leave it at that. The Shabaab is after a specific political agenda. The East African Community, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the European Union, the United Nations, the United States, everyone, is united in condemning the Shabaab's tactics and rejecting its political agenda. In the comity of nations, the Shabaab will not find legitimacy.
It is important to acknowledge, legitimate or not, that the aim of the Shabaab is not simply to terrify but to establish a political-cum-theocratic state. Therefore, how it prosecutes its campaign is important news that we must be informed about. What it says and what it means when it says it are also important news stories; we will not benefit from being shielded from the gory facts of the Shabaab campaign. That is what we do for children; we are not children. Not any more. The age of innocence for Kenya has passed. But to understand why we are being terrorised by the Shabaab, or how they are capable of terrorising us in the first place, we must not shy away from examining our own government and our own unity.
In 1992 when Somalia descended into anarchy, it is only the United Nations, the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the United States that still had the capacity to intervene in force to save Somalia from itself. They all tried. They all failed. Kenya became their surrogate in managing the unfolding situation. But Kenya's settled politics was also unravelling; its government could not pay attention to the complex evolution taking place in Somalia. It attempted containment with the complex of refugee camps. Containment is now ashambles.
Kenya's de-evolution of the Kenyan political and administrative scene contributed greatly to the ease with which outlaws like the Shabaab, and their predecessors such as the Mungiki, are able to commit great atrocities with impunity. This is not a situation that is likely to be be reversed simply because we have chosen to hold hands and sing Kumbaya. Until we accept that a rotten political and administrative system lalcks legitimacy and, therefore, public support, all calls for "doing your part" will fall on deaf ears or, worse, disillusioned ears.
In 2012 and 2013 there seemed to be a campaign to murder Islamist preachers who had no love for Kenya, its government or its policies towards Somalia. These murders will never be investigated and, it seems, have received the broad endorsement of the people, including ministers of faith. Even when they call for the youth to take up arms against their own government, Islamist preachers are promoting an ideology and spreading ideas. The blunt instrument of extra-judicial acts, such as murder, will not kill the ideology; it will turn them into martyrs. Martyrs are powerful symbols in both Christendom and, recently, Islamism. An illegitimate government will not have a credible counter-narrative to that of the Islamist preacher and will thus resort to "unconventional" thinking-out-of-the-box scenarios such as assassinations and communal punishment, as happened in Eastleigh in 2013 and 2014.
We know what we must do to prevail against the Shabaab and other enemies of Kenya. A more draconian statutory regime is not it. A more emphatic application of colonial policing tactics is not it. Cranking up the national security paranoia to eleven is not it either. We are in fear because the institutions we have entrusted to lead us in the fight against the Shabaab have consistently failed to put the people first. If the government is asking us to change our mindsets from that of "serikali saidia", then it is time for the government itself to shift focus from itself and its high officials to us. Change should not be the monopoly of the civilian population alone.