by Sam Adler-Bell, Doreen St. Félix, Alex Ronan & Ellora Vilkin

published September 26, 2013

On Saturday September 21, fifteen attackers laid siege on Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. At press time, the official casualty count was 72 dead, 175 wounded. President Kenyatta declared the siege over on September 24. Much is speculated, but this is known: the siege is over. The media cycle is moving on.

Teju Cole (@tejucole): “And it’s not over. #Westgate.” His “small fates” project covered small stories of “modernity, full of conflict, tragedies, and narrow escapes” from 2011 to early 2013. For two years, Cole reported the news in brief., tweet-sized narratives.The Nigerian author was in Nairobi at the time of the attacks. Below, inspired by Cole’s project, we cover the facts after the fact.

Anatomy of a shopping mall complex. Multi-story car park roof and entrance. The attackers entered here. Third floor cinema. The hostages were held here. Escalator to second floor. Second Floor, shops and toilets. The hostages were held here. Stairs.


TrafficAlert. Forces Lane. Closed. Peponi Road. Closed. Mwanzi Road. Closed. Ring Road Parklands. Closed. Only emergency forces allowed through. Stay away for your own good.


We are told of the things inside the mall: waterfalls, gardens, golden railings, ornate lamps, marble stairways, escalators and panorama glass. The names of stores we do and don’t recognize: Identity, Converse, Kache by Angie, Adidas, Mocca, Mr. Price, Woolworths, Little Soles.

Found in Germaine Grant’s Mombasa home: acetone, hydrogen peroxide, sulphuric acid. Not found in Germaine Grant’s Mombasa home: Germaine Grant.


They locked themselves in the bank vault. They crammed into a small management office. Holed up in a Burger Place, some dying, some dead. The supermarket cold room.


I repeat. The confrontation with the terrorists at the Westgate Mall left 240 casualties. I repeat. The confrontation with the terrorists at the Westgate Mall left 240 casualties. I repeat. The confrontation with the terrorists at the Westgate Mall left 240 casualties.


In White Mzungu Borana, a 2011 short film, the French actress Anne Dechauffour plays a hostage. In last week’s attack in Nairobi, she was killed well before she could become one.


“You’re a bad man, let us leave.” Elliot Prior, 4, scolded the terrorist. His mother who had gone to buy milk was shot in the thigh. His uncle, who was not there, told the Sun: “He was very brave. The terrorists even gave the kids Mars bars.”


Read, teacher, read from your poems and your stories. No—not on This Earth, My Brother, Night of My Blood. There will be no storytelling festival in the evening; Teacher Kofi Awoonor, 78, stopped writing poems this afternoon.


Ground Floor. Nakumatt Supermarket, where the attackers barricaded themselves. A children’s shoe shop, where three bodies were found.


0202724154, 020310225, 0203226771, 0203532198, 0203556780 are the nos. you can call for information on family, friends, and relatives.

On Sunday, President Uhuru Kenyatta asked Kenyans to donate blood for the victims of the Westgate attack. Next month he will appear before the International Criminal Court for not asking in 2007.


They decided to caption them: A policeman carries a baby along with his machine gun. A crowd holds its arms up to catch a Kenyan woman as she jumps out from the air vent. A woman sobs as she is brought out in a shopping cart. Mrs. Adatia, who was expecting her first child, was shopping for baby clothes.


They call her the “white widow,” and she is both. Her parents having been bred from old English stock. Her husband having blown himself up in 2006.


Shocked Aylesbury neighbors remember young Samantha Lewthwaite as an ordinary British girl. Pleasant and courteous. Lacking in confidence. A follower, they say, not a leader. Al Shabab says she is a “brave lady.” To them, Dada Mzungu is a brave lady.


September 24, 1:11 pm (EAT): Siege “over,” three floors collapsed. “Several bodies still trapped in the rubble including the terrorists,” according to President Kenyatta, and there will be three days of national mourning starting now.


One of Kenya’s premiere malls. The attackers may have operated a storefront for months before.


“Walk out with your hands up!” The Kenyan Defense Force ordered. Hostages hiding in the mall walked out with their hands up. The mall contained several clothing stores. Hostage-takers may have walked out with their hands up.


Breaking. Explosions heard in the Northern Kenyan town of Wajir, night of September 24. One person dead, four injured after a grenade was hurled. We would like to urge all Kenyans to be patient as investigations are done to enable us [sic] answer all the questions. Please.


The three-year-old asks, “Sasa tukiona cartoon, Daddy atatokea wapi?” If we watch cartoons, how will Daddy be rescued?