W is for #Westgate
Nairobi’s Westgate Mall attack in September 2013 plunged the country into a dark moment in history with the siege, shooting and terror that gripped the country. The hashtag was a source of continuous real-time updates, some including those trapped in the mall as the siege was underway, while others scrambled to find whatever information they could and photographs shared from first-responders and journalists at the scene went viral.
The attack, perpetrated by radical Islamist group Al Shabaab, saw the militant group use Twitter to share updates mocking Kenyans on Twitter and security forces while the siege was underway. The Kenya government through the Army Spokesman @MajorEChirchir and @InteriorKE – Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government sought to keep Kenyans calm.
Notably, Kenyan blogger @RobertAlai acted as a curator of one of the most up-to-date timelines of the siege with many looking to him amidst the taunts from the terrorist and government reassurances. One year later, it remains one of Kenya’s darkest moments, both online and offline but it did give birth to #WeAreOne a hashtag that sought to rally Kenyans across the nation to stand firmly behind the country, the flag and national values in the face of the crisis.