I have shed tears countless times since I saw the first image of casualties of the Westgate Mall terror attack; this was the picture of a woman in a car. I couldn’t make out whether she was with someone else in the car, but she was gone. Lying there motionless; this was not a movie scene.
Today marks the one week anniversary since this heinous attack; my emotions have been a wreck since then.
I have experienced highs and lows, gone through victories and losses. I have seen photos too gruesome for publication and hoped that the cameramen/women will be counselled sooner than later. I have also seen photos of courage, love and unity. These are the photos I would love to highlight.
I came close to tears when I saw this child running all alone across the corridor and felt so much pain knowing that her tiny feet couldn’t go any faster if she wanted to. But felt a smile in my heart when I saw this police officer reaching out to her. She may not be fully aware of the danger she was in but she sure looks strong and confidence. I hope her guardian made it out alive and that she is playing in the safety of her parents’ watchful eyes as I type away. I pray she is safe.
I felt scared as a mother when I saw this lady covering her little ones and obviously exposing herself to danger but that looked like the very least of her worries. My joy sore high up when I saw the little girl being carried out in the arms of this security officer, clutching happily at her bata package and her mum can be seen at the back. I thank God.
Wanted to hug this cop for carrying this little one with an AK47 on his hand and the lady also looking up to him for her safety and cover, video clips showed that it was obviously not an easy task. If you know him – give him hug on my behalf and thousands of others who I am sure would have wanted to do the same.
I crossed my fingers in fear on behalf of a friend whose fiancé was believed to be in the mall when the attack started but the relief that washed over me when he sent a text to inform that he had found her in hospital was bigger. She had been shot on the leg but she was away from the danger zone – in Kenyan slang “ako poa”.
When Ruhila Adatia’s death was first reported, all I could think was “why her??? that girl that had a bubbly personality? why her??” Images of how she must have suffered being that she was onto her third trimester with her first child tore my heart. What was her husband going through? She had been there for a kids cook-out event – she loved life and was full of it. May God rest her soul in eternal peace.
I felt mad when I saw this shot officer in the mall, holding his wound trying to prevent blood loss; the look on his face not betraying the pain he was in. Earlier pictures and clips had shown him doing what he knows best. Protecting and rescuing casualties but now he had become a casualty as well. My madness stemmed from the fact that he went into the mall without any protective gear, his colleague didn’t have any either!!!. Dear God I hope he is out of danger, don’t let that gunshot wound be the end of his story-line.
As darkness fell on the first night of the attack, I feared for those who were still being held hostage in the mall. I feared for those who were holed up in various places inside the mall, unaware of how, when or even if they were going to make it out. I feared that they may be someone who was wounded and as time waned his/her chance of surviving were being minimized. I feared for the safety of the security officers camping and mapping out their next move.
Then this photo evidence hit my Facebook timeline – of a young girl who had hidden in a ventilation shaft the whole time being rescued. Joy reigned in my heart – a sign that there was hope for the rest. Then as day two of the attack started that hope bore fruit when another lady was rescued after spending the night hiding under a car according to her own account. She looked dazed and shaken but she was alive. To prove that the living God we serve never desert’s us, a second lady was rescued. She had locked herself in her office and had been in contact with her husband who in turn contacted police officers who rescued her. Moments later a third lady was rescued; she was immediately driven away by the police officer before recounting her ordeal to the battery of reporters who were waiting.
The #weareone trending on twitter came to life when we saw people serving food and water to the police officers, journalists and medical personnel. This they did from their own accord and resources, selflessly woke up and braved the chill of the day. Saw it again when people came out in their thousands to give blood, time and supplies. Such that Kenyans overseas wanted to give blood and send by airline. When Safaricom and other mobile service providers made a call for people to give money, we proudly did that. We in the same spirit saw political arch-rivals get together to condemn the attack. No finger-pointing – one voice in leadership. Yes people WE ARE KENYANS and WE ARE ONE.
The official numbers provided by the security officers and other agencies involved in the rescue mission stands as follows;
- so far 67 deaths have been confirmed inclusive of 6 security officers and over 175 people injured.
- over 50 people are still missing.
- over 1,000 people were rescued – this being a joint effort of the area’s community security policing, various Kenyan security bodies and several international security agencies.
- through Safaricom’s #weareone initiative, Kenyans raised more than KShs. 70 million, those in the diaspora raised KShs. 410, 157 and Safaricom contributed KShs. 30 million
When the song Daima by Eric Wainaina came on my radio I knew it was all going to be alright. Any Kenyan knows how powerful this song is and how it has always given us hope in times of tension and this was definitely one of them. I have had it on replay today as I write this piece;
“Umoja ni fahari yetu, Undugu ndio nguvu. Chuki na ukabila hatutaki hata kamwe. Lazima tuungane, tuijenge nchi yetu. pasiwe hata mmoja anayetutenganisha. naishi, natumaini, najitolea daima Kenya. hakika ya bendera ni uthabiti wangu. Nyeusi ya wananchi na nyekundu ni ya damu. kijani ni ya ardhi nyeupe ya amani. daima mimi mkenya, mwananchi mzalendo. wajibu wetu ni kuishi kwa upendo kutoka ziwa mpaka pwani kaskazini na kusini”
This song is all about being Kenyan no matter what happens, it reminds us the meaning of the colors on our flag. Never dividing ourselves along tribal lines and not allowing anyone to do so to us – neither through religious nor racial lines as well.
I still have questions, questions running into hundreds that I would love answered. But for now I just want to thank everyone who helped out; materially, financially, physically and in prayers.
Pray for my country dear reader.
Kenyan Girl – B…