NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta
on Thursday called on citizens to unite and forgive each other
as the country commemorated the fourth anniversary of Westgate
mall terror attack that claimed 67 lives.
led the nation in the memorial celebrations in Nairobi, said the
memory of the September 21, 2013 Westgate attack brings much
pain and sadness but reminds Kenyans to stand together in
solidarity against terrorism.
She said the attack shattered and changed the lives and
dreams of affected people forever.
Those affected included fathers, mothers, sons, brothers and
Kenyatta said the memory also serves as a day when Kenyans
were inspired by the courage and sacrifice of many patriots
whose lives are a true testament of the endurance and strength
of the human spirit.
The First Lady also launched a second blood donation mobile
unit donated by the National Health Service of the United
Kingdom under their partnership with Kenya’s BloodLink
"I appreciate the work they are doing in raising awareness on
the importance of blood donation to prevent unnecessary health
risks and deaths," said Kenyatta.
She expressed confidence over the positive spirit by Kenyans
to support causes that touch the lives of men and women, the
youth and children, the elderly and vulnerable communities.
The Al-Shabaab militants claimed responsibility for the
attack which it said was carried out in retaliation for Kenya’s
military intervention in Somalia.
The siege, which lasted more than two days, was one of the
deadliest terror attacks in Kenyan soil in the past decade.
Kenyan armed forces and scores of patriotic citizens risked
their lives to stop the murderous and indiscriminate killings.
Westgate Mall which has since been renovated is a popular
shopping mall frequented by members of the diplomatic community,
Kenyans and foreign visitors.
During the anniversary, survivors also sent strong messages
of national forgiveness, peace, unity and gratitude as the
country marked the fourth anniversary of the massacre.
The survivors described the Westgate assault as a "cowardly
terrorist act"- aimed at intimidating Kenyans - but from which
they had emerged victorious
"We need peace, forgiveness and gratitude.
"We forgive them so that we can move on," said one of the
victors, Shamim Allu, who was hit by a grenade and braved five
bullets on the back, hand and legs and waited for four hours
before help could reach her.
The memorial event took place amid heightened security
following intelligence indicating the possibility of an attack
by the extremists group.
Dharmesh Vaya who lost his wife and sister-in-law during the
attack had 10 family members inside the mall, eight of them
rescued alive by Kenyan armed forces and brave Kenyans like
photo-journalist Joseph Mathenge who joined the rescuers for the
love of a friend and country.
"It is difficult to forget, but let’s forgive them.
"We cannot be thinking of what happened for ever", said
Dharmesh, adding that his three children and two others left by
his sister-in-law have given him the motivation and reason to
continue with life, Vaya said.