In a CCTV footage that has gone viral, Abdullahi Ugello is captured walking past a man standing outside the Secret Garden restaurant at DusitD2.
As he walks past the man, he slows down, throws back a suspicious glance, and then minds his own business.
Seconds later, the restaurant is blown up in smoke.
Ugello had just had a close shave with a suicide bomber who had blown up himself.
Yesterday, he was still reeling from the shock. He has not had a proper meal since Tuesday’s brush with death. He has hardly slept.
Ugello, a supervisor of construction and repairs at Dusit, is shaken by the near-apocalyptic experience. He has been taking water for the last two days, and keeping off television.
“I don’t feel hungry, neither do I have sleep. The sight and the thought of the attacks are so real in my mind, it shook me,” he says when Saturday Standard caught up with him at his residence in Kawangware.
In the footage captured at 15.06pm, Abdullahi swaggers past the terrorist dressed in black and seemingly on phone. He then throws a gaze on him then leaps into Secret Garden Hotel.
The father of four says on crossing the man, an eerie feeling flashed through his mind, and for a second he turned to look at him.
“When I passed him, I got a chilly feeling, not that I suspected anything but that funny feeling that scares you,” he said.
“He was so engrossed on his phone and sounded agitated asking, ‘Kwani mko wapi, kwani mko wapi bwana (where are you, where are you guys)’, his left hand was inside his black coat,” Ugello told Saturday Standard.
“His agitated voice is what made me keep an eye on him. He avoided eye contact and sounded like time was not on his side,” he said.
After leaping into the hotel, Abdullahi, who has worked in the complex since its construction started in 2010, went about greeting his friends. Just a few seconds after he had shaken hands with the chef, hell broke loose.
“There was a loud, deafening blast and black billowing smoke. A wave of heat flashed on my face, but I was twice lucky because I was standing next to a pillar. It saved me from the sheer force of the blast and the shrapnel that flew around,” he said.
Some of the people he was greeting lay dead - cut up by the blast. Twice lucky by now, but death was still beckoning.
Barely seconds later, gunshots started to blare, menacingly inching towards the restaurant. Would he be thrice lucky?
Together with the others, Abdullahi scampered outside in fear.
The CCTV video shows hotel staff running through the smoke to the safety of a building. In the melee, Abdullahi says, they ran over the pieces of body parts of the suicide bomber scattered near the site of the explosion.
“We ran through the pungent smoke and ducked into the inside of the building. The shooter was approaching fast,” he remembers.
In retrospect, Abdullahi lauds the hotel security officer Benard Nteresho who, in swift response, ordered that the security gates be opened for people to run to safety.
“I had tried to jump over the fence, but changed my mind and ran towards the security gate. Luckily it was open, and this saved tens of people who were running helter-skelter. His swift decision saved many,” he said.
Also worth noting for Abdullahi was the building’s ICT officer Sydney Musonya who linked his phone with the CCTVs in the building and helped the security officers locate the positions of the attackers. Abdullahi’s mother, Roseline Adongo, was visiting yesterday. It was mixed fits of sorrow and happiness for her son.
“I thank God for his safety. I have nothing to say. I am happy,” said Mrs Adongo.
“I am here because of God’s mercy,” Abdullahi adds.
He is yet to resume work but went to the premises on Wednesday to stop running water.
“What would I have done without him?” His wife posed to us.
“We thank God.”