We are one

Kenyans react to the Westgate mall bombing

by Catherine Lumadede | Student Contributor

It has never been like this.

It has been five and a half years since Kenyans buried dozens of sons and daughters in the Sachangwan fuel-tanker fire of 2009. We have experienced violence from the 2008 presidential election, politicians becoming enemies of other politicians, civilians gassed while collecting kerosene from an overturned truck, but never had people from other countries come to Kenya to kill as we have seen in the horrific Nairobi Westgate mall attack. At this juncture, will the Kenyans heal?

The militant Islamist group Al-Shabaab attacked the shoppers at Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya. It began on Saturday morning, September 21st, in a place which has been an amazing place for people to have leisure and fun and is especially popular with tourists. It has now become a symbol of the terrifying experience to the survivors and other witnesses.

Al-Shabaab are known as a group of terrorists who came from different countries, but the majority are said to be from Somalia. They have said that they targeted Kenya in retaliation for Kenyan military action in Somalia against al-Shabaab in 2011; I think there is also an element of jealousy, because Kenya is developing while Somalia has been torn apart by war for decades. As a consequence, many Somalians enter the country without permission, which further contributes to tension between Somalians and Kenyans. Politicians have been calling for stricter measures to remove undocumented Somalians from of Kenya. This is the national context of the al-Shabaab mall attack.

Many people enjoyed this mall because it saved them from driving miles to other stores. It was designed to employ people like cashiers and bring profit in the country. Money from other foreign countries was invited too and that is why some of the tourists who were shot and killed by al-Shabaab included a Ghanaian Professor, the nephew and his fiancé of Kenya’s President and other international tourists whose bodies may not yet have been recovered. It is really sad to lose our brothers and sisters who were innocent.

CNN news reported that Kenyans soldiers have not identified the total number of Al-shabaab involved in the attack. It was reported that five were killed, ten injured, six captured, and some of them managed to escape through the mall’s extensive drainage system. The news reports indicate that there were many members of Al-shabaab present, but only a few were identified.

The members of Al-shabaab involved in this attack may have included one or more American and/or British citizens. We believe that the government has a long arm and all the members in hiding will be caught. The government of Kenya is working really hard to maintain peace and calm in the country. The coming together of all Kenyans has been powerful. The diverse community has pulled together all races and all tribes that are often a source of tension in Nairobi. “We are one,” say Kenyan civilians. In times like this Kenyans are ready to share their meager resources. One of my aunts cooked food to serve to the rescuers and bystanders at the mall during the tragedy. It was not only her, but there were many volunteers who did serve food to the Kenya defenders too. The Kenya defenders had to take turns in eating the food. I mean if one group was eating, the other group had to protect our homes and watch for insurgents. 67 were reported dead and dozens injured. This has been going on for a few days. The various inter-faith groups are coming together to pray for peace in the country and give condolence to the people who have lost their loved ones.

Losing one life is very painful. Every Kenyan is angry about the chaos that is happening in the country. Even though I am not in Kenya, it hurts me so bad. My people are all safe, but I still count the dead ones as my family. Kenya has always been a great place to visit and especially welcoming to foreigners. “Hakuna matata,” which means “no worries,” is a dedication to every tourist that visits Kenya. Now, the trauma has made Kenya sound like a bad country to visit. But Kenyans are strong and they will always be. The country and the people will recover and restore Kenya.

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