BY GEORGE AMOLO AND BRIAN OKOTH FOR WWW.EDAILY.CO.KE
Bernadette Akinyi Konjalo, the revenue director at dusitD2 Hotel, was brutally killed by terrorists while she was helping her colleagues and guests run to safety.
Ms Konjalo, who had previously worked at Tribe Hotel in Nairobi, was seen by her colleagues and guests at the upscale hotel guiding occupants to safe exit points, after sounds of gunshots and blasts rang out Tuesday afternoon.
While at the entrance, the plucky manager came face-to-face with terrorists. Her reflexes, expectedly, drove her to run toward inner spaces of the hotel.
The terrorists fired a bullet at her, which pierced through her left hand that she was using to shield her face. The gun ball drove into the right side of her face, killing Ms Konjalo on the spot.
“She died while saving lives, and it is sad we would never be able to pay her back for that selfless deed,” said her colleague.
Ms Konjalo worked at Tribe Hotel for six years before moving to dusitD2 Hotel in March, 2014, where she rose up the ranks from the position of assistant front office manager to the director of revenue.
A dedicated, lively and loving person are the words her colleagues at dusitD2 Hotel use to describe the last born in a family of four siblings.
Back at her parents’ home in Dondi Village, South East Alego ward in Siaya County, somberness, disbelief and pain have engulfed her father, Mzee Vitalis Odhiambo Konjalo.
“Following news that dusitD2 Hotel, where my daughter worked, was under attack, I made numerous phone calls to her, but the calls went unanswered. I contacted her elder siblings who stay in Nairobi, and asked them to go look for their sister. They told me they couldn’t reach her on phone,” Mzee Konjalo told EDAILY.
The distressed old man says Ms Konjalo’s siblings, thereafter, rushed to Riverside Drive, where they saw a few bodies in bags being moved to waiting ambulances.
“They moved literally from hospital to hospital, including the Aga Khan, Avenue, MP Shah and Kenyatta National hospitals, but they did not find her name listed among the patients received at those facilities,” said Mzee Konjalo.
“They, thereafter clung on to hope that, maybe, she would walk out of dusitD2 Hotel alive. They embarked on a journey back to Riverside Drive. They waited there for hours, but all was in vain.
“They, thereafter, resorted to go to Chiromo Funeral Home to wait and see if Bernadette’s body would be brought there. Their worst fears were confirmed, when they saw Bernadette’s body being taken out of an ambulance and wheeled into the morgue,” said the distraught Mzee Konjalo.
Mzee Konjalo said he has planned a trip to Nairobi.
The elderly man’s cousin, Dr Paul Ochieng, has urged the National Government to support the affected families through helping arrange for burials of those killed in the terror attack.
Bernadette has been euologised as a people-person, who did not tire paying her cousins’ and other relatives’ school fees.
The January 15 dusitD2 Hotel terror attack left at least 21 dead, with 700 occupants being evacuated to safety.
The four terrorists, responsible for the fatal attack, were killed early Wednesday, January 16.