Bernadette Konjalo’s 10-year career in the hotel industry was tragically ended by terrorists during the attack at DusitD2 Hotel complex on 14 Riverside Drive that left 21 people dead.
Ms Konjalo, the revenue manager at DusitD2 Hotel, died while helping colleagues and guests to safety after the first gunshots rent the air.
Her cousin Camillus narrated how on hearing the news of the attack from the media, alongside her sister they tried calling her but her mobile phones were switched off.
They proceeded to the scene but could not get any information on whether she was among those who escaped or those trapped inside the hotel.
“We stayed there just waiting until 2am when some of her friends who had followed two ambulances to Chiromo Mortuary came back and asked us to accompany them as they had seen what looked like her body.
“We went to the mortuary and since some of her friends were still there, they showed us the body they thought was hers but we were in denial until we saw a birth mark,” he said.
Colleagues recounted how after the first blast, Ms Konjalo tried to inquire what was going on. They then heard gunshots and she sprang into action, directing people to exit the hotel for safety.
The attackers advanced towards the hotel’s entrance where she was standing guiding people and she quickly retreated inside with a group of colleagues.
But the attackers saw them and opened fire at them.
Ms Konjalo had previously worked at Tribe Hotel for six years before moving to DusitD2 Hotel in March 2014 where she started as an assistant front office manager and rose to become a director of revenue.
The last born in a family of four who was fondly referred to as Titi, she was outgoing and was paying school fees for some members of her extended family as well as supporting her nuclear family financially.
Her friends who had nicknamed her as B eulogised her, writing tributes that further demonstrated her character.
A friend Georges Nato wrote on social media; “Bernadette Konjalo you are one tough mama! As others ran for safety you encouraged them and showed them the way from behind like a True leader!!! I shed tears for you as my hero my dear friend, your bravery is greatly admired!!! You sacrificed your life for others, your story will be told for generations to come, you will not be forgotten!”
Mercy Shiks said: “The cruel Dusit hotel attack took…her…so sad…my former classmate & bed mate!! Rip Bernadette Konjalo.”
Wakesho Mwashigadi commented: “Spoke to you on Monday morning little did I know that I was saying goodbye to you mrembo. Been calling you Jana in vain. Shine on your way beautiful.”
Livie Manjeri wrote: “Rest in peace Queen B. Heaven just gained an angel.”
By EVELYNE MUSAMBI