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Awoonor

We’ve been in mourning these past few days with the loss of renowned Ghanaian poet, Kofi Awoonor.

Awoonor was in Nairobi for the Storymoja Hay Festival when he fell victim to terrorist shootings in an upscale mall in Nairobi.

Paula Kahumbu, the director of the literary event, writes about hanging out with Awoonor the previous day and how the news of the tragedy got to them.

I noticed other writers arrive, but not Kofi; he had gone to the Westgate Mall to do some shopping with his son Afetsi. By 11.30am we heard that there was shooting in the mall and we were assured that it was a robbery at the bank. As the day progressed, the festival continued, the crowds swelled but reports of injuries and then deaths began to reach us.

By 2pm the helicopters were above us, and police and ambulance sirens screamed down the highway. By 6pm we were in shock, 15 people were reported dead at a location less than 3km away.

We could account for all our authors but one, Kofi. We contacted embassies, police, security anyone who might know something. By 6pm we knew that Afetsi was injured and in hospital, and Kofi could not be found.

On Sunday morning it was confirmed that Kofi was among 65 dead. Africa has lost a great poet and the world is poorer. How do we make sense of this?

 

Read the condolence message that the conveners of the festival posted on their website. HERE.

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Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

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