Kenya: State House Intruder Incident Sparks Mental Health Debate

State House, Nairobi.
11 June 2019

Cape Town — Although the Kenyan police are still investigating the motive behind the incident in which a man was shot and injured after he jumped over the State House fence, detectives are convinced that he may have been mentally distressed, Capital FM reports.

Brian Kibet Bera, a fifth year mechanical engineering student at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Jkuat) made a series posts on his Facebook page, threatening that he would raid State House before sneaking in the heavily guarded presidential residence the next day.

"For someone to sit and write such kind of things and actually proceed to go there the following day, cannot be termed as a normal occurrence," a senior officer said.

The 25-year-old, who started his rant on President Kenyatta on June 7, narrated his reasons for the need to attack President Uhuru Kenyatta.

"Tomorrow I attack Statehouse. God has sent me to execute judgement," read his post.

Earlier, he had posted to say that he would not "allow myself to be captured". He had also written that "those who fear death are not supposed to go with us into this war".

"The reason I post without fear is because, they cannot arrest me. If they arrest me, my people will kill them because I am final year BSc Mechanical Engineering. They cannot kill me, because if they kill me, my people will kill them. Please let me reveal the truth to my people," he wrote.

While his posts seemingly justified his plans with quotes from the Bible, Bera notably signs off from every post as "From Prince Ethiopian, formerly called Brian Kibet Bera."

In his subsequent posts, the JKUAT student accused President Kenyatta of allegedly stealing the land God gave to his fore fathers and allegedly using fear to stop people from telling the truth.

In his posts, Bera claims to have written a letter to President Kenyatta in January 2019 to allow him and his soldiers whom he described as the (poor, oppressed homeless people) to live in caves in Mt Elgon National Park but did not get a response.

The police say they are worried about "his state of mind, and the question of whether it is terror related".

Some Kenyans have weighed in on the incident and most have come to the conclusion that Bera's actions are a result of mental illness.

"What Francis Imbuga, (Betrayal in the City), would say on knife-wielding Brian Bera (Kibet Bera) of JKUAT on this "State House" saga. "When the madness of an entire nation disturbs a solitary mind, it is not enough to say the man is mad,"@yourspenfully wrote.

Clearly, the causes of mental health disorders can be deeply variable, and that makes identifying triggers very difficult. But when an illness is in play, there are often clear-cut and understandable symptoms people can look for.

Others have blamed Bera's actions on the extremely high drug culture among the youth.

"There is a problem in JKUAT, The amount of illegal substance consumed over there is alarming. I can bet all my fortunes that our gentleman Brian Bera was high on cheap "Smoke". You don't attack statehouse... How now? His intent was however noble.. TO STOP THE "THIEF", S Nyamao tweeted.

"The kind of weed Juja boys 'drink', it must be 'confused' with omena soup. Brian Bera has nothing like 'brave' in him that's total stupidity. We need to hold universal prayers for JKUAT," Isaac Nandwa wrote.

Meanwhile, some Kenyans have heaped praises on Bera, describing him as a revolutionary.

"I had at first sight superficially concluded that the young man Brian Bera was high on some cheap illegal Substance, But boy this Jkuat Student has a Revolutionary mind. He went to Statehouse for a reason. I like him now... We need such young men," wrote another Twitter user.

"We are all JKUAT's Brian Kibet Bera with less courage. Takeaways: 1. Kenyans are tired. 2. Kenyan youth are even more tired than the other lot. Lets see how many of those Advocates who fill in the name of 'fighting oppression' (Mwilu's cabal) will turn up for a true comrade" Stephen Obunde wrote.

"This man, Brian Bera, a 5th year Mechanical Engineering student in JKUAT, might look like he is going crazy, probably on drugs.. but what he is saying is what most are scared to ♀revolutionary give him his rights," tweeted Joy Muraya.

Bera sustained an injury to his left shoulder and has been admitted in hospital.

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