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One Saturday at the mall

September 21, 2013 - Harry Eagar
Remarkable report from a New York Times photographer who went into the Nairobi mall during the terrorist attack. Be sure to read his comments below the photographs.

I was struck, as so often these days, by the vast range of lifestyles in what I grew up thinking of as backward places. Some years ago, I read a report on a researcher who was trying to develop a veterinary vaccine against sleeping sickness.

He did, but it was impractical as it had to be refrigerated. This was a problem even at his research farm, which was 10 miles outside Nairobi. Even then, which was about 30 years ago, Nairobi had skyscrapers and looked, from a distance, like a modern city; but a short walk away there wasn't even electricity.

In its way, I suppose, it was and is a modern city, complete with atavistic medievalisms. This struck me even more since this weekend I have been reading a history of the violent dockyards culture of New York City in the first half of the 20th century.

Also, from Tyler Hicks's commentary, it sounds as if the Nairobi police and soldiers performed in a skilled and experienced fashion.

Rather better than I can imagine our Maui flatfoots doing, even with their armored car. The Nairobi coppers went inside, putting themselves in harm's way, which is more than our American cops like to do.


Article Comments



Sep-22-13 8:29 PM

Not opposite but different for sure. In discussing whether the mall was for "real" Kenyans or just elites and tourists, one commenter (who appeared well informed) said anyone could pass the guards as long as he didn't "look too bush."

I guess the terrorists looked urban enough.


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