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Why Are We Rushing?

If we are elements moving in a galaxy, I think death is a furious asteroid headed our way. The moment we are born the asteroid that will destroy us starts to move and it continues to build momentum and a rage of mortality as it approaches us. Our course, as its course, doesn’t alter and finally one day it intercepts us and we collide. But sometimes it misses us by a whisker, grazes us a bit, shakes us to our core, we smell the texture of it’s finality, the horror of it all and then – wham! – it’s gone. But then it turns back again and starts on a trajectory towards us. Sometimes you have to wonder; how close is my asteroid?

When Professor Anne Muigai’s son, Jomo, woke her up on a Saturday morning, unbeknownst to her, her asteroid had just entered her orbit. That’s the day they would collide. It was 7:30am. Her plan was to sleep in a bit but the boy said he had a swimming gala in school, a gala she had forgotten about. She showered, dressed in a green top, black skirt and wedges. I know this because there is a picture of her in the New York Times, bleeding. She had Weetabix with milk. Ate hurriedly in the kitchen as the children looked for their shoes and slammed doors. Her husband was asleep in the bedroom. Later, as she left she might have stood over their bed and told his fetal form, “Us we have left, si we will talk later? I’m meeting Beatrice later.” Beatrice is her sister. He might have grunted something, or he might have said sawa, or he might have raised a thumb up and rolled back to sleep. We will never know, but what we know is that she picked up her black purse that contained a lot of money, a full year’s school fees for her daughter Wambui who was in Uni. The plan was to bank it. Who is it who said that when we make plans God laughs?

She piled her two sons – Jomo 9, Mwaniki 7 – into the back of her car, and strapped them in even though their own asteroids were still far away. Later on you will see how Jomo saves his and his brother’s life.

They get to school – Aga Khan Academy – but the gate is closed. The watchman stands at her window and tells her, “Hakuna function hapa leo, Madam, si hiyo ni ya next Saturday?” and she turns in her seat to ask, “Jomo, what was the date of the gala?” He looks goofy and says 28th. “Today is 21st, Jomo!” She sighs, and reverses the car. It’s too early to go bank the fees. It’s too early to meet her sister.

So they go to church, St. Francis Xavier at the corner of Limuru Road. There is a baptism ceremony going on. She stands at the back of the church, her black purse carrying the money pressed under her arm. Jomo goes down the pews to watch the ceremony, while she and Mwaniki sit in a pew. So far the gods haven’t deflected her asteroid, the status quo remains. She prays. Mwaniki is getting bored already. He’s looking around probably thinking, “Okay, this is not how I expected to spend my Saturday morning.” She figures that she can catch the 9-am mass at Consolata Shrine. At Consolata Jomo goes for confession and Mwaniki prays next to her because, well, what’s a man to do now that he’s in church? At 9:45 she really has to go because her sister is a stickler for time. She does quick math; from the church in Westlands, on the roundabout (now closed), past Sarit Center, it will perhaps take 5 minutes to get to their rendezvous point.

They were meeting at Westgate Mall. September 21st 2013.

Her asteroid was about two hours away from colliding with her.

Si they get into the car? (That’s how we Kenyans tell stories; “Si now we arrived at the venue to find ati sijui the guys were doing a drill). Anyway, she guns the car. Just as they are going down Lower Kabete Rd, behind Sarit Center, Jomo says he doesn’t want to go to Westgate, he wants to go home. The mom, not known for her patience, says “Come on Jomo, stop acting up, what do you want to eat, cheeseburger?” Mwaniki starts shouting, “Yes, yes, cheeseburger! Cheeseburger!” Jomo isn’t in the mood for no cheeseburger, he says no, he wants to go home, “You and auntie B talk for too long, take me home!” She’s frustrated so just at the junction of Peponi road she makes a split second decision that saves the lives of those two boys; she takes a left instead of a right towards Westgate. She’s thinking, “Oh crap, my sister will be so pissed off with me for being late.” She calls her sister to tell her she will be late and then calls the house help and tells her that she will be dropping off the children but she won’t get into the house, so she has to come out to pick them up at the gate.

At Loresho she stops, the boys jump out and she is reversing as she tells the boys she will see them later. Sometimes you drop your children off at school or at a birthday party and you rush through the goodbyes because you just assume that you will see them again in a few hours. There is never any way of knowing that’s the last time you are seeing them or they are seeing you. Our final moments are always so painfully unremarkable, so banal, when all the while death might be stealing on us. I don’t know what Jomo remembers of her on that particular day. I’d love to ask him if he remembers something she said, or how she looked, or what he thought. I recall my last conversation with my mother. I was in an ATM box on Limuru Road, withdrawing cash and she was asking me why I sounded like I was in a hole and I joked to her that I was in a police cell. Who would have thought that my last conversation with my mother would be from an ATM box?

Prof drove to Westgate but since she was in a big rush, when she arrived she did something she rarely did, she parked outside and not at the rooftop parking as was her routine. That saved her car. Yayy.

She ran into the mall, past people sitting at the terrace of Art Caffe, a sea of sunglasses and drinking straws and piped music. She pushed her way through the smell of coffee and croissants and lattes and the hubbub of conversation, people squinting in the sun, children swinging their feet from their chairs, a humanity facing an oncoming barrage of asteroids. Westgate was about to become our Titanic. Horror stood by. She walked fast through the floors of the mall, her wedges squeaking on the polished tiled floor. Then she rode up the escalator, staring at her phone, her purse clutched tight. At Java she found her sister, Auntie B, on her second juice. They hugged. Java was busy as it always was on Saturdays. Prof was just back from Turkana where she had been for a month on a project. When you come back from the field your hair is always ghastly so she had gone to the salon a few days before the meeting and the salonist had done a bang up job of it. She was now sporting hideous orange hair. It was like breeding Donald Trump on her hair.

They talked about many things then talked about her hair. Actually they went on and on about her hair.

“What should I do? Should I just cut it off altogether?” she asked Beatrice.

“It’s not that bad, just let it be.”

“Maybe we should go to Nakumatt and get some products.”

“The colour will eventually fade out, maybe you can just get it trimmed a little…”

Then there was a power blackout. Seconds later the generator kicked in. Then another. Then came the gunshots. Loud gunshots; of a big gun. The asteroids had arrived. Then there was an explosion. They had asked for the bill earlier and when a Java security guy came and started herding them out of the cafe they said, “But we haven’t paid!” The guy said “Forget the bill, move this way.”

So if Java is reading this, Professor Anne Muigai owes you for two juices and a cheeseburger. She is a professor at JKUAT if you want to send someone over to collect your cash. There won’t be any struggle, she assures you, that is if you can get past security.

Because y’all can’t stand stories of death, let’s just say that her asteroid missed her that day. But by a whisker. And that’s why we are seated at Java Adams Arcade talking about that day, something she says she has never talked about publicly.

“We thought it was a robbery,” she says. “We thought some thugs were robbing the bank downstairs. But this was Westgate, we were sure it would not last long, the cops would come after the thugs left, or they would meet the cops downstairs and there would be a shootout which we would see in the news later.”

They climbed over a low wall, onto the parking lot area where a cookery event had been going on. People were in clusters. A man was telling everybody to sit against the wall. There were lots of children and women.She crouched against the wall with them and her sister said, “You can’t sit there, are you mad?” and she said, “Why not?” and she said, “Because you are exposed!” and she said, “Exposed to what? Don’t be dramatic, please!” She’s a professor of genetics, so her professional life is built around the question; why?

“Were you scared at this point?” I ask.

“No,” she says, “ at this point we all thought it was just a few thugs shooting in the air to scare people. A gentleman told everybody that should the thugs come up, they should give them their phones and wallets if they demand for them. I had all that money in my purse at this time, don’t forget.”

Then came a massive explosion that threw them off their feet. A grenade had been thrown by the advancing men from the ramp. She remembers opening her eyes and they were teary and stinging. “My first thought when I came to was, I should have listened to my sister, we were exposed!” she says. She struggled to her feet, grabbed her handbag, and looked for her sister, whom she found lying on her back, blood on her face. She frantically called her name and shook her and she opened her eyes and said they had to hide. They crouched under a tent with U-shaped tables with white table cloth over them.

“I parted the table cloth to find many people hidden under there and this man, this very nasty man said, ‘There is no space here, get out!’ and as I tried to register his hostility he started screaming at us, ‘Get out! Get the hell out!”

“Was he white, black, asian, who was he?”

“I won’t tell you,” she laughs. “Anyway, we move to the next group of tables and underneath there are more people and a gentleman, an Asian man, who says ‘Come in, come in.’ There are also two little girls in there and so he puts one top of the other so that we can all fit. Then the shooting really starts, loud shots of what sounds like a really big gun.”

It’s hard to describe the sound of an AK 47. It’s blood curdling. It’s even worse when it’s a few meters away from you. “It’s this loud ugly sound that keeps going and going, tuf tuf tuf tuf…”

The Kalashnikov is the devil’s machine. I once watched some thugs being shot on Thika Road by the men in blue even though these men were in heavy jackets, caps and sahara shoes. The cops must have been trailing them for a bit because it was all peace and quiet driving down Thika road then suddenly there was the sound of gunshots, loud gunshots, and looking on my rearview mirror I saw the cops jumping out of their cars and peppering the thugs’ car with bullets, a loud ratatatataat, the thugs dying under the hail of bullets. I got off at the next exit and drove back to the scene to see the cops with the AK 47s. You might forget the sound of an AK 47 but you can’t forget the damage it does to the human body. But that sound? That’s how the devil must sound like when he coughs.

Anyway, back to Westgate, there were screams. The men with the guns were obviously at the parking lot now and they were shooting indiscriminately. Children were screaming. Men were screaming. Women were screaming. There was no gender or age to the mayhem, death was there and death strips man of all dignity, especially macabre death like that.

“I was terrified!”she says. “It’s what you would describe as horror. You are simply paralysed with it. You can’t believe this is happening. The Asian gentleman had told us to put our phones on silent, so I removed it and called my hubby. I was whispering over the noise of the gunshots and scream of people; I said, “I’m at Westgate.’ He asked, ‘You are at the gate?’ and I said, ‘No, Westgate! West-Gate!’ He thought I was at the gate. By this time the shooting was very loud and very close. I could hear people screaming, saying they were dying, some begging for their lives, you would hear someone begging them not to shoot, saying ‘Please don’t, don’t, then you hear twap! And silence. Then another and another. I was terrified, these guys were actually shooting people in cold blood!”

“I’m a scientist [first female genetician in Kenya, actually] I think logically but this wasn’t something I could comprehend. I whispered to my sister, “What is going on?” and she said, “They are terrorists!” and I asked her, “Terrorists? How do you know?” Where did she know terrorists from? She said, “Can’t you hear what they are saying? They were shouting that what Kenya is doing in Somalia is wrong.”

She tried to text her husband but she was shaking so much she couldn’t type a word, so she gave up. Her sister had sent a message to the family whatsapp group. There was lots of groaning now. Children were crying. Her sister’s boyfriend called. Her brother-in-law called. Her sister called, screaming. She remembers a child crying so much and one of the terrorists telling someone to shut up that child and the guardian not being able to get the child to keep quiet and there was a shot and the child went silent. At this point she was sure that they’d die if these men could shoot a crying child. Plus there wasn’t any sign of rescue coming many hours later. Hope was ebbing. She started praying, everybody was praying to their God now.

“He was letting Muslims go after proving they were Muslims. I remember this man standing up and saying he was Muslim and the man asking if the children were his and he hesitated before saying yes because they weren’t, and I think the terrorist realised he was lying because he told the children,‘I know you are not Muslims but will you become Muslims when you grow up?’ and the children said yes and they were told to go,” she continues. “Encouraged by this gesture one very old Asian lady stood up and said she was old and had bad knees and begged to be let go. She was asked if she was Muslim, she said no, and she was shot.”

It became silent now save for a few moans and groans and whimpers of the dying and whispers of prayers from lips of the dying and the occasional loud gunshot. “I knew this was it so I called my husband and I told him I loved him and he couldn’t accept that I was giving up, he kept saying they were coming to rescue us, he kept putting different security men on the phone to ask me questions about the men and our exact location. I called my daughter who was coming from Uni. I called my sons at home. Jomo said, ‘There are bad men at Westgate are you still there?’ and I said “No, I left, I’m in traffic coming home.” He had just gotten a new watch so he was a bit obsessed with time so he asked me ‘In how long will you be home?’ [Laughs]. I said an hour. I asked him to promise me that he will always be a good boy. ‘Will you always remember me?’ I asked him and he was confused so he said, ‘Well, yeah…’ then I told him ‘Please always remember me.’ Then he put down the phone and I could hear him call out to Mwaniki who came on told me that he was watching Ben 10 and I told him to always pray before he goes to bed and to be good. Then I hung up and we waited.”

A lady at the corner was humming the song ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’. The men were still shooting randomly. A Somali guy stood up and challenged the terrorists, asking them what Islam was this that kills people. “They started arguing in Somali, it got pretty heated until they shot him many times.” I guess that exchange really irritated the terrorists because after shooting the Somali guy all hell broke loose. “You know people use that expression a lot but they don’t know what it really means when hell breaks loose. Initially he had an audience lined up against the wall now he was shooting anything and everything. It was constant firing, his gun going tuftuftuftuf and people are screaming as they are hit by the bullets, the paint on the wall over us was chipping as bullets hit it. In hospital it took a lot of work to get that chipped paint off my hair.”

“Where was your handbag at this time?”

“I had it, I was leaning on it…” she laughs. “I’m a Kikuyu like that to the end.”

A stray bullet then hit a gas cylinder and set the tent on fire. It started melting, flames dropping on the people hiding under the tables. There were screams of “We are dying here!” Everybody who was hiding under the tent was forced to flee from there and the man started shooting them but they were too many so he lobbed a grenade. “I saw a guy standing one minute and when the grenade detonated he was reduced to nothing. His tissue and blood spilled all over us. My God, it was ghastly, like a scene from hell.”

She then felt a sharp pain in her chest. She had been shot twice from behind. She went down in excruciating pain. All around was mayhem, screaming and the heavy sound of gunfire, like someone “clapping two pieces of wood in your head.” There was smoke and the smell of blood, a distinct smell of blood. A pool of blood. You never forget that smell of blood.”

“I started coughing blood, “she says. “ I was in so much pain and at some point I couldn’t breathe. My sister was holding my head asking me not to close my eyes. She was crying and begging me not to close my eyes. I knew things were really bad when I coughed blood full of small air bubbles.”

One of her lungs had collapsed and the good one was filling with blood. She knew she was dying because she could feel herself slip away. She started moving between two worlds; the first world was of the living, full of pain in the chest, difficulty in breathing, evil men with guns, the sound of gunshots, the smell of blood and sounds of the dying, and the other, the land of the dead, was filled with silence and no pain and peace.

“I only realised that I would lose consciousness because as my sister was speaking to me I would lose some words and think, why is she jumping words?” she said. “I would drift in and out. When I closed my eyes it was so peaceful and when I opened them it was so chaotic. It’s amazing how people die, you don’t feel anything, it’s like a deep sleep and you want to just let it take you over but then my sister would slap me awake and talk to me and I would come back to this bad world of pain. I was very worried that I was bleeding over the lady below me who was wearing a bright dress. But when I moved a bit to get the blood off her, to tell her that I’m sorry for ruining her dress I saw that she was already dead.”

Things quickly took a turn. Somehow, a man, must have decided that they were not going to wait to die up there so on his urging they made a break for it. She says it was adrenaline that gave her that final push for survival because was struggling to breathe now as she dragged herself across the floor, through blood, stepping on and over bodies. She recalls going back into a shop or was it Java? She recalls the sound of the gunmen hunting people down and shooting them, and the sound of the gunshots echoing in her broken body. She remembers very vaguely stumbling down corridors, hands grabbing at her, urging her to stay up, the smell of her own blood, the smell of other people’s blood, her body feeling starved of oxygen, stumbling, falling, rising, dragging herself, praying, her sister by her side holding onto her, not letting her go, some man urging them on, follow me, this way, ducking under walls, her chest on fire, breathless and then somehow suddenly, sunlight and she was on a Nakumatt trolley being pushed by some men, a tv cameraman pulling the trolley with one hand and the other holding onto his camera, the wheels of the trolley rattling against the cabro surface and her turning and upon realising that her sister was no longer with her, panicking and gasping “We were two, my sister, where is my sister?” and some officers or good samaritans running back to find the sister collapsed along the corridor. That’s the picture of her on the trolley in the New York Times. Her black handbag is by her side. Okuyu and her money will not be separated even in the final moment of life.

She recalls the writing on the ambulance that picked her up, “Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital” and that there was no space on the bed in there because it had a big box of supplies, so she sat on the paramedic chair and clung onto this big box of supplies as the siren wailed and the roads parted. The causality of M.P Shah was madhouse of the dying and the dead and the bleeding and the crying and she remembers the worried faces and the determined faces of the medics. She remembers seeing a security guard lying very still next to her and realising he was dead. She remembers turning her head and seeing a worse scene, a traumatic scene of someone a bullet had damaged in a way she couldn’t describe. She was lying on her stomach and someone was asking her her name and suddenly her Aunt was there and her sister was there and they were saying, “Honey, you will be fine, we are moving you to Aga Khan.”

Then she was in another wailing ambulance, a worried nurse next to her, pushing her down as she struggled to get up because she was feeling sick and blood was coming out of her mouth. She couldn’t breathe, she started feeling hot and then cold and she felt something choking her and she tried to stand up, holding onto the nurse and croaking at the nurse that she can’t breathe, she’s choking, and the nurse telling her to cough it out and over the wailing siren she could hear the driver shouting, five….four….three…. the revving of the engine, the swerving of the car …two…and she’s thinking, God let the person who opens the door to this ambulance not be a gynecologist because I need to breathe…one….

The door swings open at Aga Khan casualty and standing there is Dr Raj, a cardiologist who later would do a lot of corrective operations. She remembers being loaded onto a cold metal trolley and the sheer pain as she landed on it. She’s now literally gasping for the last breath. She very vaguely recalls a swift argument between two medics about anaesthesia. It wasn’t really an argument but a loud impassioned back and forth about whether to give her local anaesthesia or even morphine. A nurse kept saying loudly, two seconds…three seconds, which was basically the last time she breathed. She was panicking, thinking, I don’t want to be brain dead because lack of oxygen, I have to breathe and when she tried breathing it was impossible, she was choking and fading out. In the distance she could a voice of someone saying angrily, “You get your morphine but I’m not waiting for it….”and then a soft reassuring voice of a nurse whispering in her ear, “Sweetie, you are going to feel some pain but we need to this and we need to do this now…” and her holding her hand frantically like a drowning person and croaking, “I…can’t…breathe…” and a nurse shouting, three seconds…

Suddenly there was a sharp pain in her chest. Dr. Ruturi or Dr. Raj or some angel had just plunged a tube into her chest, a hollow plastic tube placed between your ribs to drain fluids. It was as if someone had just opened her chest wide open and air flooded in. She gasped for it. Beautiful air. Wonderful air. Shall we briefly turn to our Bibles now. In Genesis 2:7, it says, “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Yes. This was the Lord, yes, but in the form of plastic tube. Can I hear an amen?

She took lungfuls of it and took it fast, like someone who had been underwater for long. “We take for granted the very process of breathing in and out. Having air in your lungs. We assume it’s natural. It’s not. My goodness, breathing is not assured. To breathe is the most beautiful feeling ever,” she says.

“Where is your handbag all this time you are taking in air?” I ask. [I’m obsessed with this handbag]

She laughs. She said some Asian guy collected everything that was found at the scene and put it in his boot for safe keeping and while she was in hospital her sister tracked her phone to the car and got the bag with all the money.

“I laugh at the person I was before Westgate. I used to run my life and the family like a tight ship; the alarm would go off in the morning and I would be up and running the whole day, everything seemed so urgent. At night I’d go to bed but not even sleep well because you are in bed but you are already living the next day in your head, planning meetings and projects and all these things seem so important right until you face your death and it dawns on you that you will never see your children again or your husband or your family.” She pauses. “I’m definitely a much better person than I was before Westgate, I’m much kinder and more loving. I don’t rush through life anymore. Because where are we rushing to?” she asks.

What did you learn at Westgate, not after Westgate? I ask.

“That we are all mere tips of what we can be,” she says. “You think you are a good writer? You can be a much much more. You think you are a great athlete, you can be much much more. We are all tips of our best versions, all of us are not exploring our fullest potential as human beings. I saw this at Westgate, when human beings were stretched to the limit, it made some people kinder, braver more compassionate. Tragedy revealed us.”

“Do you still have that handbag ama you disposed it?” I ask with a smile.

She cackles with glee. “You know, I saw it the other day underneath a pile of handbags and it brought back those memories.”

The registration of the Bikozulu masterclass is still open. Classes begin from 7th to 9th March 2018. Register here info@bikozulu.co.ke Only 10 slots remaining.

202 Responses
  • Wahito
    20.02.2018

    oh, that day!

    • derrick
      20.02.2018

      reminds me of steve jobs speech”No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there.And yet death is the destination we all share.Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.
      Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.They somehow already know what you truly want to become.Everything else is secondary.
      Material things lost can be found. But there is one thing that can never be found when it is lost — Life.
      When a person goes into the operating room, he will realize that there is one book that he has yet to finish reading — Book of Healthy Life.
      Whichever stage in life we are at right now, with time, we will face the day when the curtain comes down.
      Treasure Love for your family, love for your spouse, love for your friends.
      Treat yourself well. Cherish others.”

      292
      • Naomi
        20.02.2018

        Couldn’t agree more.

        4
      • Elizabeth
        21.02.2018

        If only we I could live this way daily! Challenges, deadlines, house-help dramas, unreasonable colleagues, harsh bosses, unmet expectations and small little fights that shouldn’t be fights at all. The problem with life is that its too daily…. God help us / me.

        17
      • Lesobet
        21.02.2018

        “What did you learn at Westgate?” “We are just tips of what/who we can be.” I love this part of the story. Someone once said, ” The biggest waste in life is the distance between what we are and what we could be.” is the biggest waste in life.

        17
      • Esther
        23.02.2018

        Last year when I was put on the operating table, it hit me that I would either leave that table alive, with complications or dead. Very few things matter to you at that moment. You choose to either sort issues with your maker so that you can go into heaven should you fail to wake up or you give up. I chose the former.

        4
      • Wa Mso
        27.02.2018

        And Billy Dean aptly captured it in this song: Only here for a Little While https://youtu.be/IaJ9zQaI1Ig
        Nice read Biko, as always. Blessings.

      • Zaza Hayes
        02.03.2018

        Well said

      • Ruth Nzuki
        16.11.2018

        I have read this story several times and I always make sure to read this comment because of how profound it is.

    • Joan
      21.02.2018

      Biko, thank you for telling this story..and for doing it so well. I know Prof. Anne he son and my brother are in the same class. I knew she was at the attack but had no idea proper details. Thank you for this story. She is a hero and gem!

      3
      • Juster
        21.02.2018

        Thank you for telling the Westgate story. After the Business daily article on Prof, I was hoping she could be complelled to tell the Westgate story. May God continue Resting those who lost their lives that day In Eternal Peace.

        7
    • Kelvin Muasya
      21.02.2018

      “It’s amazing how people die, you don’t feel anything, it’s like a deep sleep and you want to just let it take you over but then my sister would slap me awake and talk to me and I would come back to this bad world of pain. I was very worried that I was bleeding over the lady below me who was wearing a bright dress. But when I moved a bit to get the blood off her, to tell her that I’m sorry for ruining her dress I saw that she was already dead.”

      I echo these sentiments. That ”helpless man” being shot at 8:39 in the below link is me. I survived two gun shots.One at the back of my head and one to my arm.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Zvon2eualE

      God was and is always in control.

      34
      • Catherine Kahura
        22.02.2018

        We serve a God of second chances.

        2
        • Manuel Moosh
          23.02.2018

          It would be wrong to state second chances …He is a God of many chances, unlimited chances.

          11
      • Njambi
        23.02.2018

        Bless you

        1
    • Ochuoga the blogger
      28.02.2018

      Reminds me of this article I wrote about here’s the link http://thisisochuoga.blogspot.co.ke/2018/02/freedom-is-state-of-mind.html
      That freedom is a state of mind so why rush

      1
  • Seki
    20.02.2018

    I ahve done it….been so long 1st pap

    3
  • John Odida
    20.02.2018

    Day made!

    1
  • Kennedy
    20.02.2018

    Memories

    2
  • Davi K.
    20.02.2018

    Amazing story!

    2
  • Martin
    20.02.2018

    “We are all tips of our best versions, all of us are not exploring our fullest potential as human beings. ”
    Awesome read as usual.

    21
  • MIMI
    20.02.2018

    I had to google that picture

    23
  • Annah
    20.02.2018

    Amazing story. Was holding my heart until we confirmed she survived! Reviewing my routines to focus on each special moment.

    21
    • Mercy
      20.02.2018

      Me too.

  • Waithira
    20.02.2018

    may this Never happen again Not in Kenya not anywhere in this world.Ite traumatizing.
    And we are reminded ~“We take for granted the very process of breathing in and out. Having air in your lungs. We assume it’s natural. It’s not. My goodness, breathing is not assured. To breathe is the most beautiful feeling ever,”

    LIFE IS NOT AN EMERGENCY!!. where are you rushing to?

    38
    • passerby
      21.02.2018

      oh but it has happened again and again in Kenya.in North eastern.The quarry attack.the teachers this week. its just that west gate got alot more attention probably because its a rich and middle class hang out zone Am sure in those other attacks the people have been just as terrified, no matter how “small” the attack seems

      10
  • Mukiri
    20.02.2018

    A sad tale. Westgate and Garissa Uni massacre will remain etched in our minds for as long as we breathe.
    Its creative how you put that Bible verse.
    Maybe you could have asked her whether at that time, those few moments she flirted with death, she thought about afterlife?

    13
  • Joan Mundati
    20.02.2018

    We are all mere tips of what we can be,” she says. “You think you are a good writer? You can be a much much more. You think you are a great athlete, you can be much much more. We are all tips of our best versions, all of us are not exploring our fullest potential as human beings.

    8
  • Kaluki Kyalo
    20.02.2018

    Why are we rushing anyway? Leave the lady’s handbag alone Biko.

    8
  • Koki
    20.02.2018

    Tragedy revealed us
    Indeed!!!

    3
  • Migwi
    20.02.2018

    I’m glad you survived the ordeal
    Many souls never survived
    And that your sons were not in the mess too

    It was a miracle.

    2
  • Wesh - Peter Wesh
    20.02.2018

    Damn! What an emotional read. The smell of death is as cruel as death itself! Reading this in one sitting is much work. Whats worse? I read this over slow lounge-y music and it felt like a bad dream. Big gulp when Prof called her boys and told them to be good, to remember her and to pray every night. Must be an awkward surety that you are never coming back home. We always think we will come back home. And now I can still fell myself curse those men with guns. Also, can we all honor Dr. Raj and Dr. Ruturi? Doctors are God-sent (I know). I honestly think this is the best piece yet not because I sighed relief at the end but it points back to the essence of life and being here; live out our potential. “You can be a much much more.”.

    98
    • Waithira
      20.02.2018

      @Wesh , do you write, if yes, how can I get you on social media.
      I love your writing on comment section. I always look forward to your comments.

      16
      • Stella Stella
        20.02.2018

        Me too Waithira, me too. His comments often leave me quite speechless and wondering if I can get him on any available social media platform.

        1
      • Wesh - Peter Wesh
        20.02.2018

        I write. I am a lousy one though. Click on my profile thing up there and it will lead you to some of the stuff I have written over time.

        4
        • Shamu
          20.02.2018

          Once we click it is redirecting to some weird ‘Ivisha’ page.

          1
  • EDWIN CHIRCHIR
    20.02.2018

    That boy called Jomo is so intuitive. He seemed to have some extra senses.

    32
    • Sonnie
      20.02.2018

      So true,at least the mom listened otherwise it would have been a different story.

      4
    • Marakesh
      21.02.2018

      I believe it’s the detours of prayers that morning.

      4
  • Mumbi Muchiri
    20.02.2018

    It sounds like yesterday for her.. Yet its four years ago! But then tragedy has a habit of remaining fresh in our minds.
    Now as for the hand bag and the Okuyu thing with money.. Made me laugh… It’s true though!
    I’m grateful to God for her and her sister making it out alive.

    11
  • Francis
    20.02.2018

    Wow! Really good story today, read it twice!

    1
  • Nancy
    20.02.2018

    God speed.

  • Shazy
    20.02.2018

    Life is precious, i just could not even pause when reading this story!

    2
  • Mwende
    20.02.2018

    Did the nasty guy survive? The one who said no space here, get out!

    3
    • Lykah
      20.02.2018

      Nobody will judge you…atleast I won’t.

      1
  • Jeff
    20.02.2018

    Terrorism is stupid.
    #we are the tip of our best versions.

    1
  • Ben
    20.02.2018

    I stopped reading and thought about these words for a while…”Will always remember me?’ I asked him and he was confused so he said, ‘Well, yeah…’ then I told him ‘Please always remember me.’ …May they always remember you.

    11
  • Grace Yaa
    20.02.2018

    God is good! He really is!

    9
  • Beatrice
    20.02.2018

    Life experiences

    1
  • Waithera
    20.02.2018

    Indeed. Where are we rushing to?

    1
  • RightAngledCircle
    20.02.2018

    Lovely . Just lovely .

    Hey gang check out this sweet blog . http://rightangledcircle.wordpress.com/

    1
  • @clif_the_tall
    20.02.2018

    Wow… This thing called life is just so unpredictable. Very emotional read. Read every line and visualized the whole thing in my head. Well, sometimes in tragedy we find our life’s purpose. Thank you for this piece.

    14
  • Linna
    20.02.2018

    Aaaaahh… Horrific ordeal.
    Glad she’s alive but for those who lost their lives, may they rest in peace.
    A story well told though, and lessons learnt.

    5
  • Lisa
    20.02.2018

    Ooh Lord! What an experience?? Pole sana Prof.

    2
  • John jim
    20.02.2018

    This rings back the bad memories of westgate attack,though am relieved to know she is well..
    Humans have turn themselves into money making robots forgetting the finer details of being thankful and living each day as its the only day we have..
    There is definitely no need to rush after all where are we rushing to?
    Good read

    6
  • Apadet
    20.02.2018

    .we are all tips of our best version,…

    1
  • Diana
    20.02.2018

    memories indeed

  • Michael Inioluwa Oladele
    20.02.2018

    Hmmmm.. The first paragraph reads like something I would read in The Book Thief.

    1
  • Jenn
    20.02.2018

    Pheww..that was like reading a thriller novel..I was on the edge of my chair. I am happy for the good ending and that she didn’t meet with her asteroid.

    May all those who died during that horrible event continue resting well.

    3
  • Wambui
    20.02.2018

    That was a sad day, I have never recovered from the PTSD. I remember holding up huddled behind a Bank counter until I spoke with my mum and it crossed my mind that might be the last time I speak with her. On a lighter note, I learnt a Muslim prayer.

    26
    • Catherine Nyambura
      20.02.2018

      Pole sana.

      • Wambui
        20.02.2018

        Asante.

    • Lydia
      20.02.2018

      Could you post that prayer here,for us.Just in case.

      1
      • Wambui
        20.02.2018

        Just in case? Lol! Allah hu Akbar, la ilaha ilalah Muhamadur Rasul Allah…something something. Not sure of the spellings.

        4
  • abdullah omar
    20.02.2018

    the picture of the young somali guy,a musim i pressures,holding the hand of a young girl dodging bullets in the hall is
    firmly engrossed in my mind.and the lad who was felled by a torrent of bullets for defying them no muslim would condone such bestiality.

    14
  • Merci Jowi
    20.02.2018

    A happy ending! What a fighting spirit.

    1
  • Joy
    20.02.2018

    I held my breath all through this read.

    4
  • Thai
    20.02.2018

    As a Muslim reading this article, my heart breaks a million times. This is not Islam. This is not religion. Terrorists are just that…terrorists and should never associate their deeds with Allah.

    33
    • AJ
      21.02.2018

      I hear you. Terrorism is despicable and using islam as a tag to go with it is truly heartbreaking. if something is wrong it is just that. Thanks Biko for reminding us that as we plan God has other plans for us.

  • Ray
    20.02.2018

    is it just me who wasnt able to read everything….i couldnt handle it.wow….Really where are we rushing to?

  • Mkash
    20.02.2018

    But Biko! You made me think this was a sob story….thank you for the happy ending. I needed a happy ending today.

    As for that hostile man who refused Prof to take cover where he was, I hope he is reading this….and that he is a lot kinder.

    8
  • David Waweru
    20.02.2018

    A teary read, but with a deep lesson.

    2
  • Priscillah
    20.02.2018

    I love that she listened to her son Jomo and took him and his brother back home. Intuition also know as God’s spirit speaks to us all the time. When we listen, trust me, we avoid many incidences.

    Let’s not take for granted and we can breath everyday.

    12
  • Diana
    20.02.2018

    Grateful if you let me know where i can buy hardcopy of Drunk. Thank you.

  • Almasi
    20.02.2018

    So, where are we going?….reminds me of the verse The Quran 81:26

    2
    • Aisha
      24.02.2018

      “Then where are you going?”

  • Sophia Ngugi
    20.02.2018

    Oh my! This is so deeply riveting. That nurse who decided she was not waiting for anaesthasia God bleaa her. This was quite a peace

    2
  • Karyah Margaret
    20.02.2018

    Death is unexplainable. There are some clinging onto life and others wishing they were dead. My cousin left West gate 10 minutes before it all happened.

    I was holding my breath hoping that she survived and Thank God she did. How does a child grow up without a mother, yet even when you are all grown up you still need her.

    7
  • Nakshim
    20.02.2018

    True Okuyu… never leave the money behind. Thank you for bring the humor in the story

    1
  • Nava
    20.02.2018

    This entire scene is playing in my mind and I can’t help but cry at the sheer evil that is man. And this country doesn’t even need Alshabaab, the system will gladly do it to us

    2
  • Ann
    20.02.2018

    I have taken a break 4 times reading this. My tears were too much I couldn’t continue! My Good Lord, how things can take an ugly turn in no time! No I’m sick… I need to breath, outside.

    2
  • TheBlackKennedy
    20.02.2018

    Holy Great God…!!!

    You just took me back to that day in 2013; lying on a couch, switching between TV stations and thinking it was not real.

    Feeling like i was imagining the whole thing., reading the ugly banner “BREAKING NEWS: TERROR AT WESTGATE”

    Admiring the triumph of the human spirit. May God keep Prof safe

    Beautiful piece of work, Baba…

    Cheers.

    2
  • Zippy
    20.02.2018

    Indeed, where are we rushing to???? Life is not an emergency.

  • Judy Judy
    20.02.2018

    From the moment I read about asteroids, my heart moved to my mouth. I saw “.. unbeknownst to her, her asteroid had just entered her orbit..” and I whispered to myself ‘brace yourself, it’s still too dark in here, here comes another pain and sad one,, I thought dude will go easy on us this month’.
    With teary eyes reading through, I have gone away with so much more …”…I don’t rush through life anymore. Because where are we rushing to?” This has really dug deep in me. I will not rush through the goodbyes anymore, I will be kinder, I will love better because who knows how close my asteroid is?

    6
  • Anne
    20.02.2018

    Gosh…Everyday I love your pieces more. And everyday am also reminded that we live on borrowed time. I could recite your pieces by heart. Sigh

    3
  • Njambi
    20.02.2018

    I was lucky enough to be taught by Prof. When we heard she was shot, our worlds came to a still. We were so thankful the asteroid missed her because the world needs the inspiring and passionate person she is.

    3
  • Mary N.
    20.02.2018

    And she lived to tell a story.
    May this never happen again.!

    1
  • Adhiambo Natalie
    20.02.2018

    I cannot even begin to imagine what she went through…I can’t…

  • S
    20.02.2018

    I have never read holding my heart as it beat so fast and tears balancing on my eyes. Surely..God is a God of many chances. Thank God, there people who live to tell of God’s miracles. This article today really got my emotions. We are much better and much more than we really think we are.

    1
  • Tim
    20.02.2018

    I would like to know
    What are your thoughts on destiny??

  • Agot Irene
    20.02.2018

    Reading this takes me to that sad sad day. I’m petrified. The events of that day shook me to my core. It is still sad. May God help us. We should not experience such horror again

    1
  • Suke Francis
    20.02.2018

    Jesus christ, I think I wasn’t breathing until you said, “because you all don’t like death stories, her asteroid missed her that day”.
    This post made me weirdly satisfied, because I kept on wondering what went on… on the inside. What did the people who were inside Westgate experience?
    I don’t like seeing or hearing about people dying. It’s so sad that people, in the name of their so called “religion”, would take away someone’s life. My heart still aches for those who lost their life and loved ones. The world is so cruel…

    2
  • Mwari Wene
    20.02.2018

    Still wondering where I am rushing to as a 20 year old? My friends keep on asking me why am too serious and this one made me think a tonne about my life.. I am glad Prof and her sis survived

    6
    • Barbara
      20.02.2018

      You’ve reminded me of a friend of mine who’s always rushing. Girl can’t even sleep in on a Saturday. Sending this link to herm, maybe she’ll learn a thing or two

      2
  • Barbara
    20.02.2018

    I burst out crying twice, the first time when I realized it’s about the Westagate massacre, and when I realized she didn’t die. People in the office probably think it’s that time of the month for me. Jesus I’m going to stalk this lady at JKUAT and give her a big, big, tight hug. What she lived through…I just can’t. The part where she talked about going to sleep already thinking about the next day reminded me of Jesus’ words, Who here by being anxious can add even one cubit to his lifespan? Breathing is a luxury, only we don’t realize it while in pursuit of what society deems as luxury.

    7
    • Vincent
      20.02.2018

      Who here by being anxious can add even one cubit to his lifespan?

      Deep! And the gospel lives.

      1
  • Zahra
    20.02.2018

    Amen, the Lord comes in different ways. This piece……..smell the flowers, as they say

  • Sir Elvis Mayaka
    20.02.2018

    “Whose idea was it that we should all get jobs, work faster, work better, race from place to place with our brains stewing on tweets, blogs, and sound bites, on must-see movies, must-do experiences, must-have gadgets, when in the end, all any of us will have is our simple beating heart, reaching up for the connection to whoever might be in the room or leaning into our mattress as we draw our last breath?”
    ― Dee Williams

    25
  • Wahito
    20.02.2018

    I’ve felt almost every word that I’m convinced today is that Saturday

    The human spirit when called upon truly is amazing, when needed man shows up in the image we were created in

  • Esteri
    20.02.2018

    Very touching story! “We are all mere tips of what we can be.” What a statement!

  • Kinaga
    20.02.2018

    Amazing! She saw death and lived. Such are the stories that keep us going.

    1
  • Kelvin kinyua
    20.02.2018

    Surely where are we rushing to? Nice read Biko.

  • Humphrey
    20.02.2018

    Part 2 of the story maybe? I think the lessons Prof learned should be the content for part 2.

    2
  • NANCY OUKO
    20.02.2018

    your instinct…always, always, always trust your gut feeling. This is so captivating. God bless you for capturing this…lest we forget!

    2
  • Kerubo
    20.02.2018

    “We are all tips of our best versions, all of us are not exploring our fullest potential as human beings.”
    I need to slow down and really live because the end can come anytime.
    I’m so glad she lived.

  • fridah
    20.02.2018

    Where she couldn’t find the sister.That part.I hate that part.I thought she didn’t make it.I cursed,I said to myself,the strong ones just never make it’.Chimamanda did that to me in half of a yellow sun.But she did and i was so happy that that was my breaking point.This very day though my asteroid missed me,by a huge margin.

    2
  • Lydia
    20.02.2018

    The dancer in the sketched photo has a shorter 3rd leg.Strange.

    1
    • Kemmy
      21.02.2018

      I think that’s the impression of her short dress

      1
  • Shiku Ndegwa
    20.02.2018

    ..

  • Kibet
    20.02.2018

    The plot twist is amazing. At first I thought she was gonna die and when she missed it by a whisker I breathed a sigh of relief. Halafu what is with the bag?Just kidding. The story is amazing esp the last part about being tips of best versions.

    2
  • Kendi
    20.02.2018

    It was my bitthday and I was going to take my cousins and my little brother for lunch at Fogo Gaucho then a movie at Westgate.You never really know sometimes that when you get late ,or miss that bus,you are actually missing your own death…Tafakari hayo

    3
  • Nyambura
    20.02.2018

    Oh Biko! Keep me crying and learning, and you’ve got me for life.

  • Near-death experiences refocus us like nothing else. What a terrifying story.
    (I’m glad she didn’t describe the man who wouldn’t help her hide – I wonder if he made it?)

    1
  • Sarowiwa
    20.02.2018

    Issa ballerina dress

    1
  • Ritz
    20.02.2018

    A story of courage … how fragile life can be … eating it with a big spoon each day.

  • Imalyn
    20.02.2018

    I have never gotten to this point of emotional drain.
    This is inhumane. I’m smiling coz of the ending, you’re a strong heart Prof.
    This world’s enough cruelty. But God.

  • Riziki
    20.02.2018

    I can never really forget the memories of this 21st Sept 2013. My birthday, a week after my father passed on and the death of many more people. Everything i saw on that day always reminds me to be grateful for each passing day and breathe of life.

    “That we are all mere tips of what we can be,” she says. “You think you are a good writer? You can be a much much more. You think you are a great athlete, you can be much much more. We are all tips of our best versions, all of us are not exploring our fullest potential as human beings. I saw this at Westgate, when human beings were stretched to the limit, it made some people kinder, braver more compassionate. Tragedy revealed us.”

    This story has moved me beyond anything i could ever imagine.

  • Wanjiku
    20.02.2018

    For a second there, i’d thought Biko you weren’t done with this death series. But thanks for bringing the reality of death and how it touches us even with just brushing paths with it. Anne Muigai you are a brave soul and we salute you! To the loved ones we lost on that day, rest easy our angels.

  • Michael
    20.02.2018

    Well, Biko, writing about death and life but putting a fresh spin on the storyline of perseverance, hope and how tragedy reveals humanity in a positive way. Inspiring.

    2
  • Wacera
    20.02.2018

    We are all tips of our best versions, all of us are not exploring our fullest potential as human beings. I saw this at Westgate, when human beings were stretched to the limit, it made some people kinder, braver more compassionate. Tragedy revealed us.”

    This triggers lots of thought..
    If only we can be what we can be without death scaring our potential out of us

    2
  • Wambui JL
    20.02.2018

    I wasn’t ready. I never am! Let me regroup

  • Nancy
    20.02.2018

    “Tragedy Revealed Us” I am feeling this pain in my chest i cannot understand, i have read some paragraphs without being able to breath hoping for good news in the end, this has left me with so many questions and thoughts…where are we rushing to?

    Your pieces are so engaging Biko..

  • P K
    20.02.2018

    So my asteroid was diverted on that day too. And you have taken me back to Westgate which I try to forget. I have cried from the moment you mentioned Saturday as I instinctively knew it was a Westgate story. I was outside about 500m or so not inside; but where I could hear all that was going on. You see I missed going in because a policeman (first responder) guided us (my hubby and children with help plus my sister) to turn and go back. I then urged hubby to take us to a near by restaurant to wait out. And as we walked in we realized what we were hearing were not movie gunshots but live ones as we heard the news. I remember all of us going to the floor. Crying thanking God. You see if my sister B (it is an Aunty B day today) had delayed us and we had wanted to be on time for Ruhila’s cook show and have our children play there as was our routine; we would have been right inside. (sneaked out of church too: to pick my sis and get there on time.) I pray for the families of the affected; there is never good terror even though her story has a happy ending. My belief is that we are not doing enough to safeguard Kenyans. A friend who is in the security circuit actually did a penetration test and indicated to Westgate that it is still as porous as 2013. That is the saddest part of it all. I hope they did something about it. I go to malls when needs must but then again I am reminded that our asteroid of death can meet us anywhere anytime any day. I hope to overcome my phobia for machine guns loud movies and crowded places but for now we have to pray that the evil terrorists don’t get to enter and cause mayhem like they did in Garissa and Westgate ever again.

    7
  • Vincent
    20.02.2018

    So deep. No one ever knows what tomorrow holds. As the holy book tells us in James 4:14 we’re like a mist that appears for a while then vanishes, sadly sometimes we forget this fact..

    2
  • Iam Xhara
    20.02.2018

    “We take for granted the very process of breathing in and out. Having air in your lungs. We assume it’s natural. It’s not. My goodness, breathing is not assured. To breathe is the most beautiful feeling ever,
    How true this.. Waking up is a gift from God
    Im forever thankful

    1
  • Mukami
    20.02.2018

    Waooo just waoo especially if you have children. Stop, listen, breath in breath out and enjoy the moments. Great piece Biko, appreciated. How’s Aunty B doing? The boys? The husband? What a Saturday!!!!

  • Linda
    20.02.2018

    I just took a deep breath, from relief that this ended well and the kids get to have their Mama, but also to appreciate this gift called life. The sister, the hubby, the Asian man under the table, the strangers who helped them out of the building, the cameraman who pushed the trolley, the good people who went back for her sister, the ambulance team, the nurse and Docs, her boys who gave her reason to fight… so many heroes to celebrate. They all saved her life. Such deep lessons, shared through your amazing writing. Asante, Biko!

    1
  • Keke the Roy
    20.02.2018

    Here’s the link to the photo. May God bless the gentlemen who helped Prof reach the ambulance and the hospital.

    3
  • Kish
    20.02.2018

    Made me ball my eyes out
    :'( :'( :'( .

    I like how you played with our minds there in the beginning.. And I was thinking to myself, “doesn’t Biko have ears? (Haha another Kenyan term). We said no more sad endings.”

    Beautifully written.

  • Bonie
    20.02.2018

    Sad saaad memories. It is a reminder that when faced with adversity, we are all Kenyans – Asian, Kikuyu, Oromo, Muslim name it. Thanks for bringing it through the first person.

  • Nyokabi
    20.02.2018

    Riveting…life so often taken for granted. Thankful for the power to live!

  • Jaxon
    20.02.2018

    After this emotional piece, I have made one resolution. Slow down and breath.

    1
  • Caroline KERE
    20.02.2018

    Tragedy reveals us. Wow! Halfway through reading this story , I got a panic attack . I started to Google ” Westgate attack trolley Newyork Times” .. I saw the picture ,And then I passed out.

  • Leona B
    20.02.2018

    Wah!
    If this piece was a book i’d have said i’ve read it cover to cover in one emotional roller coaster.
    My tea has been forgotten on the cooker it has all evaporated.
    Children are indeed our little guardian angels sent by God to help us.
    I held my breath and thank God Prof is alive today.
    From here on out, slow down and breath. One day at a time.

  • Hellen
    20.02.2018

    I couldn’t hold my tears as I read this so sad yet reflective,life is precious we forget to live and merely exist while rushing through life,we forget the gift of loved ones in our lives and the gift of being alive a great read as always

  • MaryAnne Mutuandii
    20.02.2018

    Oh wow! I almost cried at some point.We are tips of what we should be.Really got me.Thanks for this.

  • Warui David
    20.02.2018

    We were classmates with her daughter Wambui and in 3rd year at JKUAT that year…what a tragedy?

    How gracious of God that they overcame all the grief and to see her in the corridors of JKUAT again…

  • Nathan
    20.02.2018

    I feel like i went through all of it reading this,on the paragraph where she was gasping for breath i struggled to breath. I was terryfied like when i watch those scary horror movies,felt like i was suffocating yet i still wanted to read it all,it was soo real just like the struggles you experience in a nightmare and what a relief when you finaly wake up…..she went through alot and am grateful God gave her another chance to see her children and husband once again,to breath again,live again and be a better person.

  • Judy
    20.02.2018

    I’d carried work home today… urgent, important work… After reading this, it seemed so pointless, so unimportant. Let’s just say that it will have to wait until tomorrow.

    How did I get here? A slave to an unforgiving schedule?

    2
    • Ms.Sunshine
      21.02.2018

      It can wait another day Judy! Did same thing last evening, kept the work got my good rest

  • Anne komen
    20.02.2018

    You told an ordeal but managed to give insights all the way. It is inspiring. We should never give up for we are the tips of the best version of us. Truly never take for granted that you were able to breathe today.

  • Philsoft
    21.02.2018

    Good piece as always. Thanks Biko

    1
  • Golgotha
    21.02.2018

    I am unmatched for telling the most unbelievable of tales in the office. The harder it gets, the more I have to choke on my saliva. No can can matched

  • Kemmy
    21.02.2018

    My brother was among the survivors of this ordeal. He survived because he was among a group of people who were locked in one of the establishments. He too appears in a picture where a group of them are coming out of westgate with hands raised above their heads. I thank God for saving his life for us since we already lost our parents

    1
  • Sare
    21.02.2018

    Boy, oh boy! My heart started racing after the first few paragraphs, there was a premonition; danger ahead. The hard-hitting parts show up without any warning, sometimes I can’t tell if this is her spirit talking because I’m almost convinced she died, the next time I’m willing her to live … Can’t even imagine the resilience it takes to go on about life after that kind of experience. Thank you for interjecting humor, otherwise …

  • David
    21.02.2018

    Such is life..we live, we die…we miss death..death misses us…quite a story…. and you forgot to mention that thug who was also missed by death on that Thika road shootout..

  • Nimmie
    21.02.2018

    That Saturday, i sat on a couch outside a salon that i worked at, at Krishna Center Westlands, facebooking, waiting for the next appointment. I see a photo of a girl lying on her own pool of blood, shared by a Kenyan with a caption WESTGATE TERROR ATTACK. I zoom out, the face is familiar. My friend Ruth who worked there (a certain restaurant) was there, dead! The memories are so fresh, the wound is so fresh. The whole thing makes me question religion.

  • Ndaba Kariuki
    21.02.2018

    What did you learn at Westgate, not after Westgate? I ask.

    “That we are all mere tips of what we can be,” she says. “You think you are a good writer? You can be a much much more. You think you are a great athlete, you can be much much more. We are all tips of our best versions, all of us are not exploring our fullest potential as human beings. I saw this at Westgate, when human beings were stretched to the limit, it made some people kinder, braver more compassionate. Tragedy revealed us.”

  • Nyar Suba
    21.02.2018

    1st time commenting.
    The 1st few paragraphs were literary genius…how you tricked us into assuming our subject met her asteroid before the big reveal.
    Secondly, the narrative on the actual attack is descriptive genius! You pulled us into the plot at breakneck speed (real palpitations, breathlessness & literal edge-of-the-seat posture) during the drama then at the end the title ironically rings & I had to reread in a little less of a rush.
    Beautiful writing all round. Celebrating & appreciating the BREATH of life courtesy of Prof.

    • Nyar Suba
      21.02.2018

      1st time commenting.
      The 1st few paragraphs were literary genius…how you tricked us into assuming our subject met her asteroid before the big reveal.
      Secondly, the narrative on the actual attack is descriptive genius! You pulled us into the plot at breakneck speed (real palpitations, breathlessness & literal edge-of-the-seat posture) during the drama then at the end the title ironically rings & I had to reread in a little less of a rush.
      Beautiful writing all round. Celebrating & appreciating the BREATH of life courtesy of Prof.

  • Nyar Suba
    21.02.2018

    Also, I joined the gang during the 40s series, specifically when you penned There Were Birds But They Didn’t Sing, & have only recently caught up on all available articles on this blog…which unfortunately only goes up to some time in 2014. I quickly discovered that the comments are part of the culture in this space. Having said that, the evolution of Biko is appreciated. The recent outcry to focus more on the funnies, while the prerogative of your ardent readers, I hope will not influence your craft. You, sir, are spectacularly gifted.

    2
  • Kennedy
    21.02.2018

    A vivid description of a tragic story. No soul should ever go through this if power is in our hands to prevent it. It would have been nice to leave the word “Asian” on the person who was kind to the two sisters if you chose to leave out the ethnicity of of the nasty person who said to the two to look for a hiding place elsewhere. Humanity can be and is good and it can be bad regardless of ethnicity. I am not Kikuyu but I think the line “Okuyu and her money will not be separated even in the final moment of life” though thrown in there for humour, lives a bad taste in the mouth and just helps in negative ethnic stereotyping. Otherwise thank you for the story. It is eye opening.

  • David
    21.02.2018

    You were right Biko.This is a story really worth telling.Makes you sit back and ponder . .
    From today,I stop all the pettiness.Life is too short

  • passerby
    21.02.2018

    Good is good…i cant even imagine going through that and coming out the other side.
    .On a lighter note…why was she carrying around a bag full of money when you can electronically transfer funds…i can barely walk down the street with 20K without feeling exposed.lol…

  • Liz
    21.02.2018

    Wow! such an amazing story. Its a very emotional too.It just made me stop for a moment and realized how we rush through life that we end up assuming a lot and taking so much for granted.We assume that tomorrow will be there and the next minute is guaranteed.I mean wow! am literally speechless and baffled by this.

  • Lily
    21.02.2018

    Woow Biko, am speechless

  • Kijala
    21.02.2018

    I am suddenly more aware of my breathing!

  • Rina
    21.02.2018

    Thanks God Prof survived to tell the story.
    The asteroid of cancer knocked at my dear friend Karen’s door this morning.
    lets be grateful for each day we wake up and breathe freely.

  • kantai Kotikot
    21.02.2018

    This is not just but a story. It trails down to the center of your senses, inspires tears within eyes considered dry just a moment afore. The Westgate story? It is not history, it’s a painting of the reality that religious radicalism is across the world. Whenever I walk into the mall, I have to hold breath for a couple moment, remembering all the mementos of bright young lives, old mature lives that were snuffed out. Lest we forget them

  • Vikki
    22.02.2018

    I have wept like a baby reading this for four reasons:
    1) The relief of knowing the story had a happy ending;
    2) There were children, women and men who had the same story line that day… only that they never opened their eyes again…;
    3) I know what it means to not be able to breathe and not be able to tell anyone you are in crisis. I woke up from an operation unable to breathe and it is only by God’s grace that I’m here; This story has made me re-live the horror and desperation I felt on that theatre gurney that day.
    4) We are all helpless in preventing someone somewhere in the world from going through what Prof went through.
    But as always, you have captured the haunting essence of the story exquisitely.

    1
  • Kirigwi
    22.02.2018

    Googling that photo now.

    Somehow I created these scenes in the mind while reading, and I had to gasp out occasionally after a few paragraphs cuz it’s scary.

    “I wonder if people know what it means when they say hell broke lose ….”

  • Kirigwi
    22.02.2018

    Here is the The Image from The New Yolk Times.

    “She showered, dressed in a green top, black skirt and wedges. I know this because there is a picture of her in the New York Times, bleeding. ……”

    “….and then somehow suddenly, sunlight and she was on a Nakumatt trolley being pushed by some men, a tv cameraman pulling the trolley with one hand and the other holding onto his camera, the wheels of the trolley rattling against the cabro surface…”

    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/images-from-kenya-mall-attack/article14451844/#c-image-5

  • Swoz
    22.02.2018

    exactly what i needed….. some things are easier said than done….. the only person who knows how to live a life is you, because you are living it daily…..

  • Tina
    22.02.2018

    Give thanks for life, and live a day at a time. And no matter what you are going through now, know that God has a purpose for you. As long as you are alive,as long as you are still breathing. I’m glad she survived. To God be all the glory.

  • MumEstin
    22.02.2018

    I read her interview on business daily, and I really hoped and prayed that you would write her story. Thank you Biko

    ION:What happened to your article ‘last word’ on true love?

    3
  • Nyar Suba
    22.02.2018

    1st time commenting.
    The 1st few paragraphs were literary genius…how you tricked our minds into assuming our subject met her asteroid before the big reveal.
    Secondly, the narrative on the actual attack is descriptive genius! You sucked us into the plot at adrenalin-inducing speed (real palpitations, breathlessness & literal edge-of-the-seat stance were experienced) during the drama then at the end the title ironically rings & I had to reread in a little less of a rush.
    Beautiful writing all round. Celebrating & appreciating the BREATH of life courtesy of Prof’s reminder.

    1
  • Chalo
    22.02.2018

    Just took a chill pill…your articles elicit such reactions. Great read as always.

  • Sash
    23.02.2018

    I also thought the subject met her asteroid, but thank God this wasn’t another tear jerking story. We all do need to sit still sometimes and just appreciate life as it is.

  • Tina Tintin
    23.02.2018

    Niko you are truly a master writer. the way you brought this story to life… I cried real tears, especially when she was saying bye to her kids. Biko I can pay to read your writings.

  • Mahugu
    23.02.2018

    “death is a furious asteroid headed our way. Finally one day it intercepts us and we collide. But sometimes it misses us by a whisker, grazes us a bit, shakes us to our core, ” Why are we rushing then?

  • Elvira
    23.02.2018

    This was a dark day! I know Prof. , met her a year after this and she is sure so humble, down to earth and a brainy scientist. Let’s strive to live well with all as now is the only time we know.

  • VickyRika
    23.02.2018

    Really sad piece but with a happy ending….As a mother to two awesome boys I put myself in profs shoes. Truly it is important to always slow down and show love to the significant others in our lives. Our children, our spouses….spend time with them doing nothing….. play have fun… I used to beat myself over the head when my sons would make a real mess of the sitting room. And would excuse the mess to anyone visiting us. But I realized Hey! The kids gotta have fun and where else if not in their house? Nowadays I will tell the visitor make space for yourself on the couch amidst all the toys and kiddie stuff. And anyway who wants to live in a house that looks like a showroom?! Love your loved ones… tell them every day how much you love them…. thanks Biko…. sniff sniff ……pass the tissue!

  • Emily
    23.02.2018

    Waaahh….but Biko…..’si’ u can write in details…..that part of the somali guy arguing with the terrorists got me! And who would have thought its a survival tale?? Why are we rushing again??

    1
  • MKD
    23.02.2018

    If it wasnt for a wedding that very same day on the other side of town I would most likely have been at the West gate. I will never forget the anger, the desparation and then the trickling of bad news. I will never forget wishing i had a gun because i wanted so badly to go in and help and shoot those muthaph****. I will never forget Mbugua and his fiance. Dammit i am still angry

    2
  • Kabugzz
    24.02.2018

    …It was as if someone had just opened her chest wide open and air flooded in. She gasped for it. Beautiful air. Wonderful air…

    Miracles and second chances to redo and undo happen every day.

  • maison
    25.02.2018

    The SAFA Gauteng Junior League commenced on Thursday as Jomo. Zambia beats Cosmos in practice match , , , Chipolopolo on Friday morning beat South African National First Division club Jomo Cosmos 4-0 in a practice match played. + Tshakhuma defeat is a wake-up call, Cosmos Captain admits , , ,   Jomo Cosmos skipper, Linda “Figo” Mntambo has expressed disappointment over his team’s shock 1-0 defeat by NFD new.

  • kevin
    26.02.2018

    yeah why are we rushing?

  • Njoki
    27.02.2018

    Shooting people in cold-blood, shooting a baby in cold-blood coz they are terrified and screaming. May the blood of those killed at West-gate haunt those evil men forever, even in the after-life..

  • Sereti
    27.02.2018

    For all those who lost their lives on that day, may their souls rest in eternal peace. Prof. you are warrior. God saved you and for that we thank Him.

    I remember that day because I was coming from a photo shoot because some guys had lied to me that I could make a good model because I was your typical 1GB (LOL) and some guy who was katia-ing me by then called and told me to avoid Westgate, I have actually never been to Westgate, and I thought aahh, just the kawaida robbery but we were all proved wrong because its not what we all thought. It must have been a horrific scene especially when you hear one begging to be spared and the next minute s/he is gone.

    The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people. Life is a journey and because it’s a long one, you need to learn to stop, smell the roses, enjoy the moment before going on because really, where the eff are we rushing to?

  • Carol Ohonde
    28.02.2018

    Wow!
    May we never forget!

  • GG
    01.03.2018

    Beautiful piece! An emotional roller coaster 🙂

    1
  • Everlyne
    02.03.2018

    I used to work at West gate Mall, Biko my “Asteroid” was still very far. I remember working on Friday and in the evening my boss call’s to let me know i will be transferred to Mombasa road for the weekend., to say i was pissed would be an understatement. I have never been to west gate mall since, Ukay yes, west gate no.
    Meeting people i used to work with, we hug, sometimes cry cause its like seeing a Ghost, but we never say anything , we don’t even exchange no’s.
    Right now i think its weird, but this is the longest i have talked about it. Waah i have balled reading this.

  • Rshanphonsi
    03.03.2018

    Wow! really sad indeed

  • Moh Kihiu
    03.03.2018

    An amazing story about an amazing lady who escaped death by a whisker. This story has reminded me of just how much of a blessing it is to breathe in and out.

  • “Silence is powerful,” I say. “It sometimes says more than words.”
    NO WORDS…

  • Natasha
    08.03.2018

    This definitely sent a chill down my spine and just made me realize that this life we’re living is not our own-It can be stripped from us at any moment. We should thank God for the gift of life.
    Great read Bikozulu, keep changing lives and people’s perspectives one post a time.

  • T.Otieno
    10.03.2018

    Breathe taking.

  • Ruth
    13.03.2018

    Wooooow ….Biko its like your words are after my soul.

  • Beru
    28.03.2018

    This is the same date i do celebrate my birthday September 21st, “We take for granted the very process of breathing in and out. Having air in your lungs” very profound.

  • nganga
    22.06.2018

    Let us share more please

  • Wairimu Kirui
    12.07.2018

    Nice read as always Biko!
    Thanks to God for saving Prof’s life.

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