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Remembering 9/11: Story of the Only Kenyan Who Died at World Trade Centre

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  • Tuesday, September 11, 2001, will always be remembered as one of the darkest days not only in the United States but also a turning point in global history. 

    The world’s most powerful country and the one believed to have the best security suffered the worst terror attack. One that left hundreds thousands dead and tens of thousands injured. 

    As the dark cloud continued to hang in the American skies, it was evident for one Kenyan family that  life would never be the same again.

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    Kaaria Mbaya, the second born in a family of five, was on duty that morning at World Trade Centre 1, the first to be hit by one of the planes commandeered by terrorists. 

    A File Photo of Kaaria Mbaya
    A File Photo of Kaaria Mbaya.
    Africa Report Files

    He was the son of former Meru South Member of Parliament Simon Mbaya a and Prof Verstistine Mbaya, a renowned scholar and scientist.

    Kaaria, who was 38 years old at the time, was a senior computer analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald.  He had been living in Edison, New Jersey for two years when the attack happened.

    Cantor is an American financial services firm. It had occupied the 101st to the 105th floors of One World Trade Center – just above the impact zone of the hijacked plane. 

    The industrious Kenyan had managed to secure a job at Cantor owing to his electrical engineering degree from Villanova University in Pennsylvania and a Masters in Computer Science from St. Josephs’ University.  

    He had planned to visit Kenya, where he had been born and raised the next summer and his mother Vertistine Mbaya looked forward to seeing him.

    However, at 8.46 am, Mohammed Atta and other terrorists aboard American Airlines Flight 11 crashed the plane into floors 96-99 of the North Tower at the World Trade Centre killing all 92 passengers on board.

    Hundreds of occupants in the building as well as some around the building lost their lives.

    His younger sister Rosita Scarborough described him as a compassionate man who would bend like a reed in the breeze. She noted that his brother was not only generous but also accommodative.

    “He accommodated every family member in almost everything they did. I don’t think it was necessarily something he wanted to do, but he never complained,” she recalled.

    Scarborough described the deceased as deeply spiritual. He had an uncanny ability to sense others’ feelings, reading body language closely enough to treat those close to him with a unique brand of quiet sensitivity.

    Kaaria was survived by his mother Vertistine Beaman Mbaya of Nairobi; sister Wanja of Arizona and brothers, Njue of Burlington and Kibabu of Philadelphia.

    Howard W. Lutnick, the Chief Executive of  Cantor Fitzgerald narrowly escaped 9/11 attack. He stated that he and his wife were taking their son to his first day at school when the attack happened.

    A File Photo of Kaaria Mbaya
    A File Photo of Kaaria Mbaya
    nj.com
    dead terrorist crash
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