Who is a hero?  What makes a heroine? What makes them such? What qualities do these individuals possess? Are heroes and heroine immortal? Do they live forever in our hearts and our minds?

If you and I take the time to sincerely and honestly answer these difficult questions then it would be no brain teaser who really comes to mind.

Every one of us as boys and girls had our own heroes and heroines from the comic books.  For me, I loved Superman- the man of steel with the letter ‘S’ on his broad chest- who had supernatural abilities.  I also enjoyed watching Batman, the rich man known as Bruce Wayne, who lived in a hidden bat cave, which was booby trapped.  Then you remember X-men, with an assortment of powerful women who saved humanity from its own discrimination of people they considered ‘outcasts’ or allies for a lack of better words.

Allow me as a Kenyan citizen to take some time and to pen down who we ought to celebrate and always etch in our minds as heroes and heroines of our times.  These people, individuals and institutions have earned the equivalent of life’s Oscar Awards as presented in Hollywood or the President’s Order of the Grand Warrior presented by our beloved President Uhuru Kenyatta. I salute you; I stand in awe of you and pray like the women in sacred scripture, whom our good Lord prayed that her name would be held for a memorial forever!

Dendrix Lemisi

Lemisi, 47, worked as a security guard since 2013, chose to stay to save lives. He was instrumental in rescuing helpless civilians during the commotion occasioned by the attack. Unfortunately, Lemisi died, while trying to rescue a woman out of the building. He is survived by his wife and four children.

Inayat Kassam

He is a licensed gun holder and is well known for the role he played in saving lives during the Westgate terror attack. He was also very instrumental in evacuating many people to safety during the DusitD2 attack.

Bernadette Konjalo

She was the rescue manager at DusitD2 that died while helping colleagues and guests to safety after the first gun shots rent the air. Her colleagues recounted how Ms Konjalo was instrumental in directing the people where to exit the hotel for their safety. She was the last born in a family of four, outgoing and will be remembered for her kindness in supporting her nuclear family financially.

British SAS Trooper

He was reported to have been out shopping in the city when he heard about the attack and geared up with his equipment in the back of his car. He was seen entering the building complex in Nairobi emerging with survivors.

Doctors and emergency personnel

The Red Cross evacuated many injured casualties to various hospitals. Doctors at M.P Shah Hospital were recalled from duty to ensure that lives were saved. Despite the fact that the operation was demanding; the emergency response teams coordinated their efforts meticulously with the security agents. We owe a great debt to our doctors and emergency personnel.

Security Team

We often complain and demean the men and women in uniform when it comes to corruption and extra-judicial- killings. As Kenyans, we often complain because of the failure of our security forces during the 2013 Westgate terrorist attack where Kenya Defense Forces (KDF), personnel deployed to combat the attackers were accused of looting shops, destroying machines in search of cash, stealing phones and looting the supermarket.

This time round, our security personnel rescued 700 people from the building. Wherein, the siege at Westgate lasted for four days this one ended in just two days. All the units such as the Administration Police, General Service Unit’s Recce Squad, Flying Squad and Kenya Police were under a singular command of GSU Commandant Douglas Kanja.

Kenyans on Twitter (KOT)

We were our own heroes on Twitter for standing up to bullies in the name of the New York Times who published images portraying dead victims of the terrorist attack. The image showed bodies strewn inside the Secret Garden Café.

The pressure from ‘KOT’ squad resulted in an apology from Kimiko on behalf of the New York Times.  Said She: “I apologize on behalf of @nytimes and @nyt photo for causing anger and anguish over the photos that have been published with our reporting. Thank you.” Other Kenyans took their support to hospitals where they donated blood in order to save precious human lives.

Kenyan on Twitter proved that we can for once be united for a cause more noble that petty politics and negativity.

Professionalism of media fraternity

Unlike, in 2013 when the media aided in depicting our country’s leadership and security as a failed and confused element; they also diminished the mood of the Kenyan public by fanning a fire that was further ignited by the international media of a botched rescue mission with parallel command structures.

Flashback to 2018 where we had a more mature, professional media team with up- to- date news bulletins. They supported our security personnel, upheld and fortified the Kenyan morale and diminished the pain and heartbreak caused by the terrorist attacks. Our media has come of age because they were able to learn from their blunders when they covered the Westgate attacks.

Lest we forget

Sadly, as the world gets more globalized, interconnected and interdependent we will continue to have enmity with other forces such as terrorist attacks. Kenya, in recent years since as early back as the 1998 American Embassy bombing has continued to suffer similar attacks.

We must not relent in securing our borders, preserving the dignity of human life and preventing the radicalization of unemployed and jobless young men and women from being used as home- grown- terrorists.

We must remember the heroes and heroines who were instrumental in intervening to rescue more than 1,200 people who were in the hotel at the time of the attack. Innocent individuals from all walks of life lost their lives in a sudden flurry of bullets; and in the process you and I get to breathe another day to tell their story to future generations that: yes we had great men and women; our immortal heroes and heroines that have gone to their reward in the bosom of Abraham.