It is not easy to write this. Not when I know that a mother at home is sitting anxious by the phone, her eyes on the television and her hands clasped, praying that her daughter is alive. It is not easy to write about a young man who has been lying prostate on the cold floor of Westgate Mall, for 22 hours now. Not far from him is another woman lying down in a pool of her own blood — dead.
It is not easy to write about this because I cannot even imagine the gravity of the situation. I can only speculate, and at best, try to empathize through the numerous witness and victim testimonies.
Surajit Borkakoty and his wife were shopping when they heard what they later established to be gunshots. They hid behind a cupboard and evaded the attackers.
Arjen Westra was at a cafe, quietly sipping his coffee, when he heard the sound of gunfire and at first assumed the coffee shop was being attacked. But the gunmen were outside, in the lobby.
“I could hear the gunfire moving towards the main entrance of the shopping mall, so some people ran out of our cafe in a kind of panic, and quite a number just fell down as flat as possible on the ground,” Arjen said.
A mother taking her son to the toy-store; a father shopping for a new dress for his daughter — her birthday being just a few days away; a group teenagers going to watch the latest movie at the cinema. Everyday people going about their every day activities.
Then there were those who work at the mall. Security officers trying to make a living ended up losing their lives at the mall. A supermarket attendant helping a shopper find his way around the shop, found herself being helped to find her way out of the building by the shopper. And when it dawned on us, hours later, that the gunmen were not making any demands and seemed bent on killing indiscriminately, the situation turned critical.
As I write this post, the official records indicate that at least 39 (updated number currently at 68) people lost their lives and over 150 (updated number currently at 175) were injured. It is not easy to write this.
Kiss TV journalist, Ruhila Adatia was among those shot in the attacks yesterday. She was rushed to the Aga Khan hospital with serious gunshot wounds. But she later succumbed to her injuries. Two people died when she did – Ruhila and her unborn child. May God comfort their family.
It is not easy to write this because I may end up saying insensitive things and make an unwise statement. There’s a great temptation to explain away the tragedy in the guise of comforting the afflicted. There’s the high possibility of misinforming the public about the facts of the event.
You see, it is not easy to write this because the siege is still going on. Twenty-two hours later, the gunmen are yet to be apprehended. Reports show that one of the gunmen was seriously wounded in a fire exchange with the police, but he died at the hospital. The rest of the terrorists are still inside the building — and so are some hostages.
It is not easy to write this but I have to. The urgency of the situation demands it. I write this to ask that you, whoever is reading this, to pray for Kenya. Pray for the families of those who were killed and injured in the attacks. Pray for those who are still being held hostage in the building, that they will remain unharmed. Pray for this nation, that we will grow through this event. Pray also for our president, Uhuru Kenyatta, who finds himself in the precarious position of having to mourn the dead (some of whom were his relatives), to comfort the living and still strategize on bringing the situation to a safe and just conclusion.
Pray that the heartless terrorists who savagely carried out these atrocities will be apprehended and brought to justice.
Even so, we acknowledge that no punishment on earth, not even death, will be considered a just retribution for the crimes committed, and this is where we must remind ourselves that only God’s justice reigns supreme. Only His vengeance is truly just. He will rightly judge and avenge all the loss. We can trust Him, not only because we have no choice, but also because He implores us to trust Him.
“O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.” Psalm 10:17-18
Calling on all the saints across the world, please, pray for Kenya.