*This post also includes travel and local advisories
The way we lead our lives; in freedom, openness, unity and consideration for each other represents our victory over all those who wish us ill. We are as brave and invincible as the lions on our Coat of Arms.
Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta
Nairobi is an expat hub in unison to hard working Kenyans and a large Indian/Kenyan community – the diverse collective that frequented Westgate on a daily basis. The years of living in Nairobi and my visits thereafter since I moved to Mombasa – the first choice for shopping was here and lunch, dinner or a glass of wine would be at Artcaffe, where I’d be greeted and socialise with business acquaintances, mall staff and friends. I, with friends and family, would even joke that this is our second home. So yes, as an expat but as definitively my country, this tragedy has struck chords in shock, mourning and yet an incredible faith in the future of Kenya.
How could I say that at a time like this? Because Kenya came together as One.
As one Kenyan said in an interview, crying – “…this is incredible. People are coming from everywhere donated blood for the victims. No matter what tribe; Luo’s, Kikuyus, Indian, they are giving their blood to eachother to save lives”.
Blood donations were being sent from all ends of Kenya, people started raising money (almost $1 from citizens and internationals), free matatus were given out to transport people who were helping the aid workers, water and food were sent to hospitals and the Oshwal Centre, and Grace (a regular staff member at Nirvana), alongside many others cooked and provided drinks for the Red Cross, released hostages, journalists and the Kenyan Police. Not to mention after, the flux of post-trauma counselors, Reiki and massage therapists, and medical professionals who got to the centres to support and/or offer medical supplies. Facebook, Twitter, mobile apps and internal communications were non-stop with ways in which all the communities could help.
The aftermath of the Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi not only leads us into more facts and expectedly, accumulative speculations, but to the facts of a strong, unified community in Kenya; the harambee spirit, and to the unsung Hero’s… Kenyans.
A few days after the end of the siege, a fellow Nairobian expat posted online:
Today is my first day venturing back to Artcaffe and Nakumatt (Junction) since the Westgate attack. All the normal signs of a post-trauma incident are there: fear, hyper vigilance, increased startle, sadness, anger… But also this incredible desire for a sense of safety, normality, and routine to be returned. As I see other people slowly venturing back inside, cautiously again sitting down for their Sunday brunch and shopping chores, I feel a slight relief. That although we are still shaken and affected, we will slowly get back to being ourselves, bonding together, and living our normal lives that these terrorists have failed in destroying. The recovery may be slow, but we will get there. #NairobiStrong
Travel Advisories & Gaining a Perspective
I feel I have to address this issue on our blog, as much as I don’t feel it a necessary concern for travelers or even for myself, as a Westerner. Although I know many readers will. Long term or experienced travelers will share the neutral perspective on any international event or tragedy and I hope that this consciousness will be in support of Kenya throughout it’s recovery.
Sir Richard Branson, as you may have noticed the link I posted to our Facebook and Twitter page (/kenyabeds), strongly disagrees in travel advisories not to visit Kenya. If you didn’t see the post you can read the article here
One interview I read asked a question – How safe is Kenya now? Answer: The reality is, exactly as it’s always been….
Nakumatt Junction (as mentioned in the above quote) is equal to clientele and lifestyle as Westgate Mall. From expatriates to Kenyans; UN staff, NGO staff, shoppers…
Terrorism can occur in any country – London & the USA amongst many. They all incur the same amount of “risk”. The flocks of tourists and supporters gravitated toward these countries when in crisis, rather than stay away. Africa may appear more unstable and risky as it is a “developing” country, but the right advice is to get and follow the right advice – knowledge and updates will give you the confidence and security to enjoy your trip / rest of.
Internal suggested advisories to me (outside media hype) have been to avoid the following: malls, mosques and churches. For Mombasa, it has the City Mall, Nyali. *We have advised our guests to avoid day time trips to the mall for the next seven days after the end of the attack in Nairobi, as a precaution.
*as of 26th September
If you want a realistic picture of expat life, community, Nairobi and tone since the attack, please check out this page. It’s a good start to seeing day to day life and experiences of living in Kenya, from a Westerners/non-citizen point of view (as of course, we have many travelers from neighboring countries and worldwide).
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Nirvana sends our condolences and heartfelt thoughts to all those in Nairobi at this time <3