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Still they rise! Hotel holds private memorial for Dusit attack victims

MARY WAMBUIBy MARY WAMBUI
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A stone plaque erected in memory of the 22 victims of dusitD2 attack stands near the entrance of 14 Riverside office park.

The plaque bears an inscription of one of the late Nelson Mandela’s biggest lessons during his struggle against apartheid: “I learnt that courage was not the absence of fear but the triumph over it.”

The same lesson applies to survivors and relatives of the January 15 dusitD2 terror attack – though deeply broken, they must rise above the fear and pain that the unfortunate incident brought onto them.

PRIVATE MEMORIAL

The dusitD2 hotel management yesterday held a private memorial and thanksgiving service for the seven workers it lost in the attack. Also in attendance were relatives of the deceased and survivors of the attack, all dressed in white.

The hotel lost six employees on the fateful day and the seventh, a nurse who was shot while attending to some of the victims, succumbed to injuries later.

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Reverend Canon Joshua Omungo of the ACK St Mark’s Church in Westlands reminded the mourners that though the 22 are gone, death did not separate them from God.

“The darkest moment of our lives can become our greatest testimony. Let us develop a personal conviction with God and understand that death does not separate us from God, it only ushers us to him,” said Rev Omungo.

DusitD2 Nairobi General Manager Michael Metaxas said the hotel had chosen not to honour the souls of the departed with sadness but with memories of the good times they shared with them.

“No words can adequately express the pain, the suffering of the 22 men and women who left us. They have left us humbled and united. While they are no longer present in physical form, they will live forever in our hearts,” said Mr Metaxas.

He then recited the popular ‘We thought of you today’ poem.

A televised message from Dusit’s top management in Bangkok was also screened for the mourners, who sat through the brief service quietly, probably reminiscing on the events of the day in which some lost their loved ones while others cheated death.

The complex’s management in a statement assured its customers that security has been under constant review and enhancement since the attack happened.

It also thanked Kenyans and security agencies for the immense support and goodwill messages it received after the attack.

“The 14 Riverside community was greatly affected by the incident but has remained resilient and compassionate. A majority of the tenants have since settled in well while new ones have signed up for the spaces that arose when a few occupants vacated the premises for varied reasons,” read their statement in part.

Part of the enhanced security features at the complex include increased presence of armed police officers and sniffer dogs.

Westgate Mall, which suffered a similar attack in 2013, has also enhanced its security with increased CCTV cameras and police officers on constant surveillance around the establishment.

At the mall, customers are no longer allowed in with gas cylinders and pets.

Those with bags receive prior warnings that random inspection is likely to be done within the mall.

Other establishments that have mounted extra security features include the ABC place, the Lavington Mall, Thika Road Mall and Garden City Mall, among others.