Mall rampage unites determined Kenyans

Thousands in Nairobi wait for hours to donate blood

Khalil Senosi/AP

“Sometimes you need to save a life and leave the ball, you know?”—Bobognongo Otiendo, Nairobi resident who donated blood instead of playing rugby

No one can understand a terrorist attack from a computer screen thousands of miles away. Such is the madness in Nairobi, where al-Shabab militants stormed a suburban mall and killed 68 people, wounded many more, and took who knows how many shoppers hostage. The first slideshows from inside Westgate mall were as mystifying as they were horrifying. How could such disturbing images emanate from a shopping mall, where the sound of gunfire only ever echoes from arcades? From here, everything’s incomprehensible.

If anything in Nairobi makes sense, it’s the reaction of people outside the mall. Thousands of people, Nairobians and foreigners alike, donated massive amounts of blood as the siege within the mall’s walls, where Kenyan forces took on the militants, dragged on. That knee-jerk reaction, donate blood because you can, would be heart-warming if it weren’t surrounded by so much death. Many of the people who lined up for five hours had lost friends or family in the mall attack.

Kenya, which represents a fairly stable nation on a continent that could use more of those, has endured its share of violence and unrest in recent times. Its deputy president, William Ruto, is on trial at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity related to post-election violence in 2008. In a bizarre twist, he was excused from the court to handle the hostage crisis.

Kenyan journalist Nanjala Nyabola, writing for Al-Jazeera, captures the complexity of the Kenyan struggle. “Beneath all the chaos are the stories that don’t sell newspapers or generate clicks per minute; stories that confirm that Kenyans continue to pull together in moments of crisis to help each other stumble along,” writes Nyabola. “We Kenyans fight a lot, but like all brothers and sisters, when need arises, we band together.”


What’s above the fold

The Globe and Mail  A terrorist attack on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya has killed at least 68 people.
National Post  Most of the hostages held in Westgate mall have apparently been freed.
Toronto Star  Kenyan forces were determined to defeat the al-Shabab militants.
Ottawa Citizen  Two Canadians, including a diplomat, died in the Nairobi terrorist attack.
CBC News  Al-Shabab militants are still expected to hold some hostages.
CTV News  Four explosions hit Westgate mall as the crisis entered its third day.
National Newswatch  The New York Times criticized Stephen Harper‘s muzzling of scientists.

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