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2013: Bitter-sweet year for Kenya

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As the year comes to an end, Kenyans are reflecting on what has been a bitter-sweet year for the country.

Sorrow and grief characterised a year that only celebrated sporting success.

Kenya suffered one of the worst terror attacks ever in the country when suspected Al-Shabaab militants terrorised unsuspecting customers at the popular Westgate Mall in Nairobi. About 70 people were killed including five suspects.

“This was the darkest moment for 2013 for many Kenyans, particularly those that lived in Nairobi. We never expected that normal thinking people would craft such heinous acts to kill innocent people just for the sake of killing them,” George Kipchumba, one of the survivors told CAJ News.

He added, “I’m not so sure whether these people don’t have their followers in this Al-Shabaab terrorism doctrine. If indeed they have other members in the country or the East African region, then I would like to appeal to the government to remain steadfast this Christmas holiday, otherwise we can be surprised again.”

A Nigerian national running a boutique in Nairobi, Ikechuchu Abubakar, said he had sad memories for the deadliest terrorist attack since the United States Embassy bombing in Nairobi in 1998.

“I was here when the 1998 US embassy bombing occurred. I was again there when the Wastgate Mall terrorist attack occurred, and I’m now living in fear, especially when holidays come. You never know when these terrorists would attack again,” Abubakar said.

In the political landscape, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto won the elections convincingly, but the ongoing charges of crimes against humanity in Hague, Netherlands soiled the party.

“This is again not something good to celebrate. Charges of crimes against humanity are not good at all, but we hope the duo will be seen as innocent until proven guilty,” Ronald Ikeke, a foreign national living in Kenya.

The trial follows the controversial 2007/08 election when scores were killed.

However, it was in sports that would make millions of Kenyans look back and smile as the country’s athletes dominated various international athletic events.

In October, Dennis Kimetto won the Bank of America Chicago Marathon while Rita Jeptoo dominated the female race.

“That was a refreshing moment for Kenya. We all rallied the two, and they indeed did Kenya proud,” Jack Omonde, an athletics fan said.

Hillary Yego Kipkogei won the Athens Classic Marathon with fellow countryman Dickson Kimeli finishing second.

Another piece of history was made in athletics when Geoffrey Mutai reclaimed his New York City Marathon title when he beat a cluster of other world athletes to win the Big Apple prize.

Another top Kenyan athlete, Kenneth Munga’ra won the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon before donating part of his winnings to charity.

During the period, the senior men’s national team claimed the Council of Central and East African Football Associations title.

“These were always the moments we become happy when we see people with harm hearts and love for humanity excel,” Rebbecca Kimani said.

– CAJ News

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