21st September was a day of remembrance for Kenyans and the anniversary of a day that Kenya will never forget. It is hard to believe that it was only a year ago that the Westgate Mall tragedy unfolded when it was attacked by terrorists and many lives were forever changed.
It was a blue sky, sun shiny sort of day; the kind perfect for a spot of shopping or meeting a friend at a café; and by extension, a busy day for those who would man those counters. And so it was at the Westgate mall.
A young couple shopped for their wedding rings, a radio presenter and a marketing manager of a leading oil manufacturing company hosted children for a cooking festival as a Nigerian poet and a diplomat met friends for coffee.
The last thing they expected was four men with hate in their hearts to enter the mall, guns blazing.
The next few hours after midday played out like a scene from a horror movie and what was a blue sky, sun shiny sort of day turned into a bloody Saturday which is commemorated as one of Kenya’s darkest day.
And when Flying Squad operative Benjamin Chemjor heard of shots fired at the Westgate mall, he thought it must be a shootout between fellow police officers and robbers. The last thing he expected to discover was that terrorists had dared to attack innocent Kenyans at what was known as Nairobi’s premier shopping mall, in broad daylight.
It was a day on which a nation was held captive. “Some things you just never forget,” Kotia later testified in court.