Global Voices Author Remembers Friends Slain in Nairobi Mall Attack

Shurufu is a Tanzanian journalist based in Dar es Salaam. He tweets at @shurufu. Also read his post How the Nairobi Mall Attack Unfolded on Social Media.

At the time of writing, the number of people killed in the brutal attack on Westgate Mall in Nairobi stood at 69, with more than 200 injured. Armed militants burst into the mall, one of the city's most popular locations for foreigners and middle-class Kenyans, and carried out the deadliest attack the country has seen since the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy.

Among the dead include renowned Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor. Also killed was a well-known broadcaster, Ruhila Adatia. She was reportedly pregnant.

I, too, lost friends in the Westgate attack: Ross Langdon and Elif Yavuz, a couple who were expecting their first child. They lived in Dar es Salaam but were in Nairobi to have their baby there because they preferred the city's medical care. Elif had completed her PhD at the Harvard University's School of Public Health. She moved to Dar es Salaam to work for the Clinton Foundation. Here she is, meeting with President Bill Clinton during his visit to Tanzania in August:

Elif Yavuz meeting with President Bill Clinton during his visit to Tanzania in August

Elif Yavuz meeting with former US President Bill Clinton during his visit to Tanzania in August 2013. Photo via Ms. Yavuz's Facebook page.

Elif was smart, witty, disarmingly charming and a joy to be around. She would have made a terrific mother. Her boyfriend Ross had the easy going Aussie humor and zest for life typical of folks from ‘down under.’ He was also an incredibly talented architect. He co-founded a successful inter-continental design studio, Regional Associates. Here he is talking about what he called Chameleon architecture at last year's TEDxKraków:

He was looking forward to becoming a Dad.

But Ross and Elif are now gone. It is difficult to explain why these two wonderful human beings and Professor Awoonor and Ms. Adatia, and Mbugua and Wahito and all the other innocent souls who perished at Westgate Mall had to die.

In the words of the writer Teju Cole (@tejucole), may their gentle souls be ferried in peace to the new world.

Also read: How the Nairobi Mall Attack Unfolded on Social Media.


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