In the early hours of Saturday October 1st, a French lady was kidnapped from Manda island, in the Lamu archipelago, two weeks after a British lady was kidnapped and her husband shot dead, further north up the coast towards Somalia.
I got the call on that Saturday morning, and was asked to take the first flight down. This was a different type of journalism to everything else I have hitherto done.
Arriving in Lamu, nobody on the island could believe that “the Somali pirates” could be so “audacious” to come to Lamu. It was hard to believe that the Kenyan government, police and coast-guard had not stepped up security following the previous kidnapping.
Local hoteliers had themselves organised an aeroplane to fly up the coast and try to track the kidnappers as they fled towards Somali waters. The coastguard did not have a boat, it was rumoured.
The fate of Marie Dedieu is still unknown, but the impact on tourism in Lamu will be enormous. Over eighty per cent of the island relies on the tourism industry, which immediately sunk as news trickled in. Over two hundred people that Saturday cancelled their holiday to Lamu. It will take a long time to rebuild the reputation of the island; the Kenyan tourism indusyry is still recovering from the hit it took following the post-election violence several years ago.
The last time I came here, I came for two or three days. I left ten days later. It was easy to fall in love with the place. It will be harder now.