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The thriller: Pirates of ‘Westgate Siege’

THE NAIROBIAN
By By SOLOMON KOKO and PKEMOI NG’ENOH | October 4th 2013

By SOLOMON KOKO and PKEMOI NG’ENOH

If you thought the tragic events that devastated Kenyans would be forgotten soon, you are wrong. It is all in a movie that is apparently a ‘blockbuster’ in the CBD.

The underworld of Riverwood – Kenya’s backstreet film industry on River Road – has packaged the events of Westgate in a drama they hope would rake in millions.

The hostage crisis that featured the ‘bad guys’ (the al Shabaab gunmen) and commando-like rescuers (KDF soldiers) with big guns and explosives, seems to have provided a perfect plot for a thriller they have called Westgate Siege.

The underground network of pirates on River Road reproduced video clips of the Westgate Mall attack as covered by local TV stations to make the movie.

The ‘filmmakers’ downloaded the Westgate video clips on YouTube then produced them as a film in studios in River Road and Ngara.

And they are making a kill, our survey in the streets has revealed.

Thousands of DVDs have already been sold in the streets and social joints, especially estate pubs.

A DVD seller on River Road, Peter Mwaniki, told The Nairobian: “We must use our creativity to survive in the city or else our children will sleep hungry.” Mwaniki said he has sold more than 80 copies of ‘Westgate Siege’ so far since they were produced on September 25.

“One blank DVD goes for Sh20 and we pay the studio managers Sh50 per copy, so we only target between Sh100 and 150 on the streets,” he said.

According to a female vendor who sought anonymity, the DVDs are selling like hot cake.

“A lot of people are buying the copies in hope that they will get some truth in it,” she told The Nairobian.

However, The Nairobian has established that all the footage contained in the DVD is content of local TV stations with most having been acquired from footage that was broadcast mainly from KTN and Citizen TV.

Supposedly not cowed by anti-piracy authorities, the makers of the compilation, Titans Library, have gone ahead and even put up their contacts just before the start of the one-and-a-half hour movie.

In a nicely designed package, the DVD cover has pictures of the suspected woman mastermind nicknamed ‘White Widow’. Her real name is Samantha Lewthwaite.

Westgate Siege contains footage including reports by KTN investigative reporter Mohamed Ali, President Uhuru’s address to the nation, images from the terror attack, among other clips broadcast on TV.

“It is criminal that someone would see it as a money-minting venture to sell the DVDs while the nation and the people affected are still mourning the unfortunate attack,” a Nairobian furious about the sale of the DVDs told The Nairobian.

Another said: “The responsible authorities should bring this to a stop and prosecute those involved.”

Mwaniki, the DVD dealer, said hawkers in Nakuru have reported huge sales.

Much remains murky about the Westgate attack including the death toll, the number of missing hostages and the number of attackers.

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