I’ve stayed fairly quiet about the al-Shabaab terrorist attack on Westgate Mall in Nairobi – primarily because I don’t feel that I’ve devoted enough time to following all the events, which for a time were happening so quickly that my internet connection truly didn’t allow me to keep pace. When the situation turned into a siege by Kenyan military, I lost track.
That said, I have not ignored it.
Ghana was no more isolated from Westgate than Britain or France, all of which lost their own nationals amid the gunfire. In fact, the most prominent Ghanaian to have died was revered poet and diplomat Kofi Awoonor.
I am at once reminded of a different al-Shabaab attack – three years ago in a different African capital city and in which I lost a friend and community member. What has the world learned since the World Cup bombings of 2010?
The worldwide media coverage has been extensive, thankfully, but there is still that sense of otherness that separates the West from the happenings in one of the few African countries they could name (though locating Kenya on a map may still be beyond many). This post on the blog naked chiefs by Charles Onyango-Obbo does a fine job of addressing the Westgate attack and how the outside world has perceived it.
As usual in times of crisis, the color of one’s skin or the style of one’s clothing or the faith one does or does not practice make little difference. I am proud of those heroes whom I will never meet and whom the media may never profile. My heart is glad for the survivors and sad for the slain. There will be a great deal of commentary on Westgate in coming months and years. I will join that conversation when I can.