We pass through the busy crowded city of Nairobi everyday going to school, work and some of us to the Cinema because apparently it’s holiday season. I’m serious, my neighbor wakes up very early to go to IMAX to watch a movie coz its cheaper during morning hours. Thank me later.
Anyway, I decided to pay a visit to the Bomb blast Memorial park on Monday. Its located near the busy railway station stage. Let me remind you in case you forgot about the dreading moments of 7th August 1998. Its been solid 18 years. Some of the survivors of that particular Friday still leave with the scars. Not just physical ones but emotional ones too.
Walking into the reception, you could smell tensed air in the room that was filled with glass cased memories. Images of the horrendous happenings patched on every corner. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take photos. So, I decided to walk around and write some notes. Before I forget, I saw a photo of Hillary Clinton (The only female presidential candidate whom we all hoped will lead the Free world) posing with Mr. Moses Wetangula a politician alongside a woman dressed in a full kitenge attire. President Barrack Obama happened to have visited the memorial park twice. On 25th August 2006 and also on 25th July 2015. President Obama also laid a wreath in commeration of all those who lost their lives on 7/8/98. I must say that the memorial park has had dignitaries from around the world visit it. There is even a quote by Nelson Mandela written somewhere “I will not forget, but I will forgive”.
The only thing I took a photo of was a drawing of my fingers I had done at a corner familiar to many children who have sat on some small stool placed there to allow them to write messages of peace. I was filled with mixed emotion. Pain. Grief. Anger. Bitterness. Helplessness.
I can imagine how it felt on that Dark Friday. I could see a couple of glass cased with a big smoky title ‘Dark Friday’. One of them had this writings:
“A 1 tonne TNT bomb with high explosive had been detonated by suicide bombers at the rear entrance of the American Embassy. The ensuing shattering of glass and flying projectile objects damaged about 40 building within a radius of 150 metres. True to the Kenyan culture of let’s follow the noise and see what within minutes of the blast, thousands of onlookers and rescuers converged at the bomb site; many climbed over the rubble to enter the embassy. Kenyans rallied on all fronts, carting victims to hospitals, queimg up to blood, donate food and blankets to hospitals”. ©Beyondscars.
Glass cases filled with wrapped flags of both Kenya and the United States of America were laid in every corner. Each flag representing the lives lost.
I’m still amazed at how one of the guards survived the tragedy and lived to tell his side of the story. Miracles are real. Not the ones sold on Nairobi’s street preachers. The one God performs only. I’m just keeping the air clear. Hallo!!(On a light note).
After my rounds at the gallery, I was directed to a corner that had a silver like metal piece grilled with the words ‘Audio visual room’. It looked more like a dark room. Photography students must be familiar with this term. Gone are the days when films had to be washed to make photos. The small room that has a capacity of 30 at max was neatly arranged. The TV hanged from a wall waiting for that one individual who will visit to watch the short documentary of about 50 minutes dubbed “Seconds from disaster”. The short documentary courtesy of National Geographic Channel explains in depth the accounts of that day.
I still believe there is a reason why the memorial park was built even with this whole issue of there being no enough land in the filled up city. To be reminded that life is short. To be united as a country. To live by the spirit of Peace, Love and Unity as said by our founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.