Local Kenyans glued to news of violent attack at Nairobi’s Westgate Mall

PARKVILLE, Mo. — The violence on the African continent sits front and center for Kenyan people who live here in the metro.

They’re thousands of miles from their home on the African continent, but for approximately 50 students here at Park University, their native Kenya is front and center. Unrest has raged in that African nation for the past three days, and the current state of affairs there weigh heavy on the hearts of two Kenyans we spoke with in Parkville.

“I went to my Facebook and I saw people posting that something was going on,” Daniel Tubei said on Monday.

Social networking carried the horrific news to Tubei, who makes his hometown five hours west of Nairobi. Tubei is safe here in the United States, where he’s decorated as an American national champion distance runner as a senior at Park University.

“It was a bad weekend for us,” Tubei said. “The news was so shocking for us.”

While Tubei didn’t personally suffer from the violence, he says one of his high school classmates suffered serious injuries during the siege on that Nairobi shopping mall. He’s expected to survive, but not without a terroist’s threat to his well-being.

“Those are innocent people,” Tubei said. “They were told, ‘If you’re a Muslim, stand up. If you aren’t a Muslim, sleep so we can kill you.'”

Jackline Kahugu’s hometown is even closer to the hot spot, where Reuters is reporting billows of black smoke pouring from the shopping center that’s still occupied by Somali terrorists. So far, 62 people have been reported as having been murdered in the siege.

“We don’t know whether they’ve killed everyone or this is a distraction,” Kahugu said. “We are hoping they can just free the hostages and find a way to solve this.”

Kahugu is also a student at Park, and gets constant updates from newspapers in her homeland and family members who call and email to share their fears about violent intruders in their midst.

“If they were watching right now, I would say to them, ‘please, please, please stop this madness. There’s no need to kill innocent children and innocent people’.”

Both students we spoke with emphasize that Kenya is a peaceful place, and that they’re praying that the violence will end soon.

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