Former diplomat killed and son injured in Nairobi shopping centre attack after travelling to Kenya for literary festival
Latest news from the Kenyan mall siege
A renowned Ghanaian poet was among the scores of casualties of the Westgate shopping mall attack in Kenya.
Prof Kofi Awoonor, a former diplomat, was killed in the attack in Nairobi. He was in the city attending the Storymoja Hay literary festival, a celebration of pan-African writing and storytelling.
His fellow Ghanaian poet Nii Ayikewei Parkes said people attending the festival had realised something was wrong when Awoonor, known affectionately by many in Ghana as "Prof", failed to turn up for a session at which poets from west Africa and east Africa were due to perform a reading.
"Professor Awoonor and I and two other poets were representing west Africa, and there were four poets from east Africa," said Parkes, author of Tail of the Blue Bird, who is also Awoonor's nephew.
"The high commissioner had phoned to say that [Awoonor's] son Afetfi was injured in an attack at the mall, and that they had lost track of [Awoonor].
"Later that night the high commissioner phoned and said that his body had been found."
Awoonor is believed to have gone to the Westgate mall with his son, Afetfi Awoonor, who left him in the car. It was unclear whether Awoonor was attacked in the car park, or whether he entered the mall looking for his son after hearing initial gunfire.
Afetfi Awoonor, who had travelled to Nairobi to support his 78-year-old-father, was shot in the shoulder and is believed to be recovering in Nairobi but is said to be "in shock".
"It was the first time I had met [Awoonor]," said Parkes. "He was very witty, wise and incredibly magnanimous. The Ghanaian high commissioner and several very successful Ghanaians in Nairobi dropped everything when they heard that he was speaking to come and hear him. Yet he was humble and warm," Parkes said.
A memorial tribute has been organised at Nairobi's national museum on Monday, where wellwishers have been invited to carry a candle in honour of the poet, and to sign a sympathy book for his family.
Awoonor, who is known for his experimental writing and poetry including the acclaimed novel This Earth, My Brother, was also a public figure in Ghana, with a particularly close relationship to the late president John Atta Mills.
"Professor Awoonor was a great African, a leading light whose footsteps leave big footprints," the Storymoja Hay organisers said. "His legend must live on."