Top left inset: Joanne Ball-Burgess with husband Quincy and their boys (*Photo supplied). Top right inset: A Kenyan police officer in action during the siege at the mall (*AFP photo). Bottom: The Westgate Mall, where the terrorists struck (*AFP photo).
Top left inset: Joanne Ball-Burgess with husband Quincy and their boys (*Photo supplied). Top right inset: A Kenyan police officer in action during the siege at the mall (*AFP photo). Bottom: The Westgate Mall, where the terrorists struck (*AFP photo).
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A Bermudian family is still dealing with the aftermath of a bloody terror attack which has been described as ‘Kenya’s 9/11’.

Joanne Ball-Burgess was at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi on Saturday when gunmen struck, killing at least 60 people.

Amid the gunfire, she hid in a bathroom stall with two other women, for three hours. She sent Tweets from the scene and the Bermuda Sun broke the story of her ordeal on our website on Saturday morning. The siege only came to an end yesterday after four days of mayhem.

Mrs Ball-Burgess’s car is still stuck at the mall: “I don’t know if I will get my car back riddled with gunshots or burnt,” she told us yesterday.


Bermudian Joanne Ball-Burgess is still dealing with the aftermath of the shooting at a mall in Nairobi, Kenya over the weekend.

Mrs Ball-Burgess went to Westgate Mall on Saturday to stop to an ATM. Once the shooting started, she was stuck in a bathroom stall with two other women for the next three hours.

The Bermuda Sun broke the story on Saturday morning after Mrs Ball-Burgess began tweeting while trapped in the bathroom. She eventually escaped.

She and her family are still coming to terms with the awful loss of life and the sheer scale of the incident that touched their lives. But there are immediate, practical considerations, too: “Our car is still parked at Westgate,” Mrs Ball-Burgess told us yesterday. “I don’t know if I will get my car back riddled with gunshots or burnt.”

“It’s been difficult to get around, since we live outside of the city. We’re hoping that it doesn’t look like Swiss cheese.

Mrs Ball-Burgess lives in Kenya with her husband Quincy and their two sons, aged six and seven. Both have been featured in Bermuda Sun stories in recent years: she is a dancer, writer and dance judge on a TV dance competition called Sakata. Her Bermudian husband is an independent contractor in agriculture and nutrition and has recently started a Ph.D in environment and governance.  

Asked to describe the immediate aftermath of the attack on the mall, the mother-of-two told us yesterday: “The rest of my Saturday felt very slow, like my feet were touching the ground for the first time.

“My phone didn’t stop ringing and messages kept pouring in from friends and family so it was also nice to receive so many messages of encouragement, concern and hope.

“I imagined that this is what people would say if I had died but I was lucky enough to be reading them and very much alive.”

The boys

Asked how the boys are, she said: “The boys are fine. They are playing and doing what boys do as usual.

“When Quincy picked me up, my youngest son immediately asked, ‘Mommy were there guns at Westgate?’

 “I replied, ‘You know how mommy tells you not to play with guns because in real life people get hurt from guns? Well today some very bad people took guns into Westgate and a lot of people got hurt’.

“But I was thinking about you the whole time and I’m so glad to see you’.

“At that point they gave me hugs and kisses and on the way home they fell asleep.”

Asked if she has processed the ordeal, the dancer/author said: “I think I’m processing it day by day, bit by bit.

“For the past couple of days, I was glued to the TV screen and to the twitter feeds that were surfacing about the events.

“I’ve stopped that now and am beginning to focus on my own health and healing inside and out.”

Asked if the incident makes her want to leave Kenya, Mrs Ball-Burgess said: “If this were the norm, yes but it’s not the norm.

Opportunities

“I’ve noticed that the response from many Bermudians is, ‘You need to come back to the island’.

“ If I did that, I’d be a sensation for about two weeks before everyone got back to their regular routine and then I’d be left alone. Here, my family and I have great opportunities and jobs.”

She continued: “I have a career in the Kenyan media industry and my kids are happy. They collect goose and chicken eggs every morning for breakfast and help to milk the cow.

“They know that they are of African descent and ask why Bermuda is so slow at getting their independence when Kenya did it 50 years ago.

“I love Bermuda and miss it dearly but right now our masters degrees are worth [only] enough to be jobless in Bermuda.”