As the United States marked 18 years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that claimed nearly 3000 people at the New York World Trade Center, Africa also joined them after having lost 11 people from the continent.
Two people from DR Congo, two Ethiopians, two from Ghana, two from South Africa, one from Côte d’Ivoire, a Kenyan and a Nigerian all perished during that fateful morning.
In the US, families gathered at ground zero, where there was an outpouring of grief, sound of a bell tolling in mourning and the rhythm of names being recited.
The commemoration at ground zero which has become an annual rite of remembrance that follows a familiar, somber script began with an honor guard carrying the flag.
At 8:46 a.m. on Wednesday, the time when the first plane slammed into the north tower, there was a moment of silence, the first of six marking the strikes at the trade center and the Pentagon, and the plane crash in Shanksville, Pa., as well as the collapse of the twin towers in a blizzard of toxic dust and flaming debris. Bagpipers played “America the Beautiful.”
Then, readers began reciting the names of the dead, one by one, brothers, sisters, cousins, mothers, husbands, wives. Some family members brushed away tears as the names were read.
Some carried flowers or wore T-shirts with photos and names of their relatives. Others who attended said they have their own traditions that they follow.
The 18th anniversary, not a major milestone like the fifth or the 10th, took place in an area that rebounded as it was rebuilt and, some say, as the country moved on.
But for the families whose relatives were killed, the grief remains as piercing and profound as ever.