Renowned Ghanaian poet killed in Kenya mall attack
ACCRA (AFP) – Renowned Ghanaian poet and statesman Kofi Awoonor was among the 59 people confirmed dead so far in an attack by Somali Islamist militants on a Nairobi shopping mall, Ghana's president said Sunday.
John Dramani Mahama said in a statement: "I am shocked to hear the death of Prof. Kofi Awoonor in Nairobi mall terrorist attack. Such a sad twist of fate..."
Awoonor, 78, was killed while shopping with his son in the Westgate Mall, Ghana's Deputy Information Minister Felix Kwakye Ofosu said.
His son was injured and has been discharged from the hospital, Ofosu said.
Awoonor was Ghana's representative to the United Nations under the presidency of Jerry Rawlings from 1990 to 1994, and was also president of the Council of State, an advisory body to the president, under former president John Atta Mills. He stepped down from that role earlier this year.
He was a renowned writer, most notably for his poetry inspired by the oral tradition of the Ewe people, to which he belonged.
Much of his best work was published in Ghana's immediate post-independence period, part of which he spent in exile outside of the country after the first president Kwame Nkrumah, whom Awoonor was close to, was overthrown in a coup.
His books included "Rediscovery and Other Poems," published in 1964.
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Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor, TV anchor Ruhila Adatia die in attack
Updated Sunday, September 22nd 2013
By STEVENS MUENDO
On Sunday, top celebrities, media personalities and hundreds of fans across Africa joined family members in mourning the deaths of celebrated Kiss TV presenter Ruhila Adatia and Ghanaian poet and diplomat, Kofi Awoonor, who were caught up in the Westgate Mall attack on Saturday.
The Ghanaian government confirmed Awoonor’s death early Sunday morning.
Awoonor was in Nairobi to speak at the Storymoja Hay Festival, a four-day celebration of writing, thinking and storytelling — when the attack — for which Somali militant group Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility — occurred.
Condolence messages to Ruhila’s family poured in from her former Radio Africa colleagues including Caroline Mutoko, Churchill, Kalekye Mumo and Shaffie Weru.
The local media personalities expressed their grief following Ruhila’s shocking death from gunshot wounds.
“Such a sad day for Kenya and for Radio Africa. Rest in peace Ruhila Adatia. Words alone cannot begin to explain the shock I’m in,” celebrated radio presenter, actress and musician Kalekye Mumo mourned, minutes after the Kiss E-News presenter succumbed to her wounds after she was rushed to the Aga Khan University Hospital in Parklands, Nairobi.
“My heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased. Rest in peace Ruhila Adatia,” a shocked Churchill commented.
The beauty had cut a niche for herself in the local media thanks to her popular Kiss TV E-News segment as well as her East FM drive show.
At the time of going to press, 64 people had been confirmed dead and 175 hospitalised with injuries following the terror attack, the first of its kind to happen in Kenya.
Heavily armed attackers captured the busy uptown mall mid Saturday morning and put the mall under siege with heavy gunfire and grenade blasts occasioning what was to become one of the deadliest attacks ever to be experienced in Kenya.
- East FM radio presenter Aleem Manji, who was also with Ms Kaur, was reported injured.
- She posted a total of eight photos on Instagram, with her fans, with her colleagues and some of those who won prizes with bags of rice in their hands.
- A fun-loving person, Ruhila is described on the East FM website as a “TV presenter by day and superhero in the evenings as I get you home in the traffic mess.”
A few hours after she arrived at the Westgate shopping mall Saturday morning, Radio Africa Group presenter Ruhila Adatia-Sood posted several photographs on her Instagram account and linked that to Twitter.
She was clad in a loose black top and black trousers with a blue and orange necklace completing the look.
Ruhila was in the parking lot of the upscale mall for Sungold Sunrice Superchef, a cooking competition sponsored by the rice brand, which she was hosting.
She posted a total of eight photos on Instagram, with her fans, with her colleagues and some of those who won prizes with bags of rice in their hands.
That was her last activity on social media.
About three hours after news of an attack on Westgate mall began spreading on social media, the first Twitter posts about her emerged.
Of the many who lost their lives in the attack yesterday, Ruhila may be the most familiar.
Kenyans are most likely to recognise her bubbly voice reading entertainment news on Kiss TV, Kiss 100 and XFM. Perhaps as a sign of her popularity, there was a page in her memory on Facebook last evening.
On her Twitter page, Ruhila Adatia-Sood described herself as a “food lover, thrill seeker and a bungee jump away from sanity.” “Always looking for my next meal,” she also says on her profile on the East FM website.
A fun-loving person, Ruhila is described on the East FM website as a “TV presenter by day and superhero in the evenings as I get you home in the traffic mess.”
She adds, with a twist of that familiar fun-loving person that she, “believes there’s not enough reality television. Farhan Akhtar (an Indian filmmaker, writer, singer TV host and actor) is my hubby, DiCaprio is my iceberg.”
A graduate of Rhodes University in Grahamstown in South Africa, she used to co-host The Rush on Metro East FM with Gupz Saund.
Ruhila married Ketan Sood in January 2012 in what The Star on January 9 said was a three-day Swahili-themed wedding. She was pregnant with their first child.
In an interview published in The Star in September 2012, the last-born in a family of four girls is described by her sisters as a go-getter.
Said Farah Adatia Gomes: “Ruhila loved reading, listening to music and watching TV though she never really got to watch what she wanted as most of the time we used to bully her into watching and listening to what we wanted. She was charming and outgoing, always a leader.”
East FM, a radio station whose target audience is Kenyan Asians, was holding a children’s event at the roof top parking of Westgate Mall when gunmen struck Saturday.
Information posted on the firm’s Facebook page a few hours before the fatal shooting shows that the occasion was the second round of the SunGold SunRice Junior Super Chef Competition, the first of which was held at the same time and place last Saturday.
The children competiting were to prepare a starter or main dish accompanied by a desert.
“We are super excited!! Do join us on Saturday from 11am onwards at Westgate roof top for the 2nd round of Sungold Sunrice SuperChef Junior! See you there and do share this post!,” Kamal Kaur, an East FM presenter, wrote.
Ms Kaur attended the event which she tells the Sunday Nation was “packed with kids”.
And after the competition began, Ms Kaur said they heard popping noises.
“We heard what sounded like firecrackers,” she said, narrating how the group then ran to the edge of the parking lot and looked over to see people streaming out of the mall.
She then ran to find her son and they tried to get the children out through the Java service entry.
“One man shot at my son, but he managed to duck. He was wearing blue jeans, a black T-shirt, sunglasses and an Arabic headscarf (kaffiya) wrapped around his head. He was holding a big automatic weapon, and I could see a pistol sticking out of his pocket.”