NAIROBI, KENYA: Eastleigh residents in Nairobi have joined the national mourning and remembrance of the people who tragically lost their lives or were terribly injured during the brutal attack on the Westgate Mall a year ago by Al Shabaab militants.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
A section of residents have organised a series of commemorative events on Sunday including a procession of peace by a live band crisscrossing the estate that is largely inhabited by members of the Somali community.
The procession will have stop overs in designated areas where influential leaders in the community will share key messages including condemnation of the attack that left at least 67 people killed and scores injured.
"Our key message will be condemnation of all such terrorist acts against innocent Kenyans and to join the victims in commemorating this tragic day. We offer them moral support during this difficult time," said Abdihamid Mohamed, a senior official of the Community Development Initiative (CODA) which has organised the event.
He added: "We will also be raising awareness about the need to protect vulnerable youths from being lured into criminal groups. We will work with community and religious leaders to achieve this important objective."
During the event, there will be signing of pledges for peace and tolerance by different people from faiths within the community.
The events will coincide with others that will be marked on Sunday to mark the first anniversary of the brutal attack on Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
Chairman of the Eastleigh Residents Community Association Hussain Roba called for Kenyans to re-look into the general perceptions about Eastleigh and its residents as being "sympathisers" of criminal groups such as Al Shabaab, especially after the unfortunate attack on Westgate Mall.
He said that such a mistaken attitude is what is responsible for the frequent police "invasions" of the estate whenever insecurity incidents occur.
" We want to mark the day with peace messages, messages of tolerance and send the signal that this is a peaceful community which looks forward to a united nation of Kenya moving together to meet its aspirations," he said.
" The whole muslim and Somali community should not be demonised and criminalised because of the actions of a few criminal elements. Criminals should be dealt with as individuals. Eastleigh residents are always ready to work with the government to root out the handful of troublemakers who may be hiding amongst us," he said.