THE FATEFUL DAY OF AUGUST 1998 BOMBING
On August 7th 1998, a group of terrorists used a car bomb to blow up the then United States Embassy located at the corner of Moi and Haile Selassie Avenues, causing the deaths of 218 innocent people and injuring thousands of others. Many of the victims were left with blinding injuries, others were left with only partial sight, caused by the millions of shards of glass that flew from the Embassy and surrounding buildings. So powerful was the explosion that it could be heard as far away as Tigoni and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, while the shock wave was felt all over the city causing many buildings to tremble.
As a result, a new Embassy was constructed on a heavily fortified site at Gigiri while ownership of the existing site was donated by the American and Kenyan people to a Trust charged with turning it into a memorial park as a tribute to the victims but also a place where the public would be educated about the futility of violence and the essence of peace. The construction of the park was made possible by donations in cash and kind by a number of individuals, companies and organizations, leading to its opening on 7th August 2001.
The Memorial Park comprises a landscaped garden, a wall commemorating the names of those who died, a scultpture made from the debris of the blast and a Visitors Centre, the latter financed by a donation from USAID. The Visitors Centre stands at the site of Ufundi House, a building that used to stand next to the Embassy, and which took the full force of the blast. It was completed in the year 2004. Considerable courage was shown by the victims, survivors and rescuers alike and there are many stories of acts of heroism by numerous individuals, with survivors still being picked from the wreckage many days later.
The August 7th Memorial Park is now a unique and serene place that stands at the site of the former American Embassy.It is a place where we remember the day in Kenyan history when terrorists used a car bomb to blow up the American Embassy and also destroyed other neighbouring buildings in the process. Today,the Memorial Park has a beautiful garden where people come to reflect,remember, and relax.The park also has a peace centre where we can learn about the importance of living in harmony with our neighbours and the need to condemn acts of violence so that peace may prevail.