The Lion of Nairobi
Akash Soni, Zee Media Correspondent from Nairobi
The man who saved 40 lives talks to Zee Media in Nairobi
He saved 40 lives in the Nairobi mall. When you give him the credit he cutely smiles and points his finger upwards saying it is Him who did it, not him. He tries to give credit to others but the survivors, 40 of them, say – if he had not been there, perhaps Al Shabaab militants would have butchered them as well.
37 year old Satpal Singh is a Sikh - a Kenyan of Indian origin. He shared his experience with Zee Media. No amount of words can describe his humility, bravery beyond ordinary, a shining example of unflinching faith in the face of cowardly butchery by the terrorists.
As booby traps, bombs and blood are cleaned from the Westgate Mall here in Nairobi, Satpal Singh narrates to Zee Media the ordeal of more than 1000 people who were trapped inside the mall on the fateful four days.
Normal human reaction would have been to escape as grenades exploded and men, women and children fell to sprays of bullets. But Satpal tells Zee Media he never thought about running because Sikh religion does not teach you to run. I hold an incredulous expression; I cannot believe my ears as he says even his first reaction was not to run. So, Sikh teachings overcame the primeval survivor instinct to flee even in the face of danger? Intellectualise if you will, is his reply in a few words, but for him it is like this. “He will take care of me. He does his work, I do mine. It is His job to save me, then why should I be worried.”He was face to face with a terrorist who shot twice at him but Satpal cheated death, the bullets barely missed him.
I met many survivors - many refused to talk on camera; we understood it was a trauma they would rather avoid. What does Satpal feel when he looks back at the terrorist attack that claimed 67 lives? "I feel I could have done more," he says. So, is there no feeling of accomplishment? "No, we could have saved so many more lives and anyways there was an ex-British officer who was there. He said - you are a Sikh, a warrior, let`s join forces and get people out. We did what we could but still many lives were lost!"
No hatred for terrorists. No big words. No ego.
There is so much to learn from Satpal Singh. I have interviewed many people as we journalists do, but I have never felt so small, so inferior as a man as I did standing and clicking a photo with Satpal. And Satpal thanks - you have given many of us journalists and Indians and Kenyans a reason to believe that faith can indeed move mountains.
A man who lives the teachings of his Guru "Chidiyon se mein Baaz Ladaoon, Gidran to mein Sher Banoon, Sava Lakh se ek Ladaun, Tabhi Gobind Singh Naam Kahaoon."