Student - September 24, 2013

'I know this shopping mall, I have been there'

Last Saturday saw the start of an attack on a Nairobi shopping centre in which 68 people were killed and many more injured. Kenyan master student Susan Moenga lost an acquaintance and she talks about what it os like to be away from home at such an important time.

In the news: Last Saturday saw the start of an attack on a Nairobi shopping centre in which 68 people were killed and many more injured. An unknown number of people were kidnapped. Responsibility for the attack has been claimed by Al-Shabaab, a militant Muslim group from Somalia, who say they acted in revenge for Kenyan military intervention in their country.

Commenting on the news: Susan Moenga, Kenyan MSc student of Plant Biotechnology and board member at ISOW

‘I came home from church on Saturday and found all sorts of worried messages from friends on my telephone. Of course I wondered what they were talking about. That’s how I found out there had been an attack. There doesn’t seem to be anyone I know among the victims. My boyfriend’s father was at the bank to withdraw money at the time of the attack. He had been brought there by car by a colleague of my boyfriend’s, who stayed down in the basement waiting for my father-in-law by the car. My father-in-law was lucky: the attackers couldn’t get into the bank. He called the chauffeur to say he shouldn’t come up. In the evening my father-in-law was rescued by the army. They found my boyfriend’s colleague in the basement later. Shot dead.

It is good to see how the country responds to the attack, because it really brings people closer together. They donate blood or try to help in all kinds of ways. We are a multi-ethnic and -religious society but we always respect each other. Al-Shabaab use their religion as an excuse but this had nothing to do with religion. The terrorists of Al Shabaab have lost a lot of power thanks to the actions of the Kenyan army. This is an act of despair motivated by revenge.

It’s very difficult for me that something like this happens when I am far from home and my family. Normally this kind of thing happens somewhere far away but this is different: I know this shopping mall, I have been there. Friends of mine are still worried about their family. I feel helpless about it. I keep track of the news all the time of course; tonight I couldn’t sleep because of it. I have been very surprised by the support I get in Wageningen, because people are very concerned. A lot of friends ask if my family is OK, and that is very nice.’