Kenyans in Minnesota grapple with mall attack aftermath

Kenyans in Minnesota grapple with mall attack, support Somali community

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Days after the deadly attack in Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kenyans living in Minnesota are still looking for answers.

By their own estimates, 10,000 Kenyans call Minnesota home, and many gathered Wednesday to stand against the terrorism.

Kenya sits right in the middle of east Africa surrounded by countries that have experienced the throws of war, among them, Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda.

Kenya has been the only nation in this region at peace and is home to millions of refugees from these countries, which is why this is particularly troublesome to Kenyans who now living here.

For Kihanya Mwaura the bloodshed is very real – one of his cousins was killed in the attack.

"The red is the blood we shed for our fight for independence," Mwaura said. "I got the information this morning that one of my cousins in Kenya, his sister Carol, one of the kids killed."

For Kenyans living in Minnesota, there is considerable worry about whether the mall attack is an isolated event or a spread of terrorism to a country at peace.

At a Capitol news rally, Kenyans said they stand with the Somali community in condemning the Westgate mall attacks. Somali terror group al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility with unconfirmed reports from the Kenyan ambassador that Minnesotans may have been among the attackers.

"We want to stand and believe that most Kenyans and most Somalis are peace-loving people. Here in Minnesota, we are peace-loving people, and that this act of cowardice will be defeated," International Outreach Church Pastor Zipporah Bogonko said.

There's still the fear of an old Swahili saying coming true.

"It says asante apunta neh mah teka. In other words, sometimes a donkey kicks you in gratitude. Everything is good now, he kicks you to thank you. We don't want asante apunta nema teka, no," attorney Henry Ongeri said.

Many of Minnesota's Somali immigrants came here from refugee camps in Kenya. That's partially why there is a bond between these two nationalities and why both communities here are equally condemning the attacks.

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