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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Wistful Recollections of Friday, August 7, 1998

…aptly dubbed dark Friday.

At around 10:37am on Friday August 7, 1998, a pick up was seen at the gate of the American Embassy in Nairobi. One of two men manning the vehicle was seen as if arguing with the guard at the gate. Undoubtedly, they wanted entry into the Embassy compound.

Seconds later, all hell broke loose. A bomb exploded. A bomb that set things running in the opposite direction. A bomb that brought mighty buildings down. A bomb that killed, maimed, incapacitated, dealt a death blow to people’s ambitions (and aspirations) and forcefully wrenched and wrested our loved ones from our very hands.

The scene was aghast after the blast. People ran, screamed, and hollered while some tried to shield themselves with their palms – sheer madness. But for once, nobody cared what their neighbours were doing for each and every one was doing their own thing – primarily to get as far away from where the noise had come from (the bomb!).

Hundreds lost their lives and the whole country was held at ransom by the very pain and sorrow its citizens were going through. Many lost their limbs, eyesight, hearing ability and – hope!

As countless numbers of people were sifting and rummaging through the rubble trying to find their loved ones – hoping against all hope that they would find them alive – countless others thronged churches and mosques asking God to purge their sins for they thought the prophesied Armageddon had finally come. A frightening thought!

I was at home, in Nyahururu (a town in Central Kenya), at the time. Some minutes after the blast of the bomb, my mother came running to my room.

“Have you heard the news? There’s been a massive bomb blast in Nairobi. People have died and buildings have been destroyed,” she said, panting.

“What?!” I exclaimed. I had never heard of a massive bomb blast anywhere in Kenya before that day. I was flabbergasted.

As news came trickling in the rest of the day and on subsequent days, the picture of what had happened on that fateful day gradually sunk in. The images on TV spoke very loudly. Images of the injured, the dead and the destroyed buildings evoked sympathy and empathy; Images of Kenyans of all walks of life working together to help find “loved ones” (who could not be traced), Kenyans working together to help the injured and piece the pieces of the jigsaw to get a clear picture, spoke volumes.

{I fail to understand where that spirit of working together as a nation went to: working towards a common goal without looking at the creed, colour, tribe or religion of fellow Kenyans. Will that sweet spirit ever come back to bond us together again? I’m just wondering.}

It was during that time, too, that I came to hear of the term “terrorism” being widely used. I heard that terrorist activities were levelled against America, Americans and American interests in the rest of the world.

So, Kenya and Kenyans were victims of circumstances in this whole thing. Is there any reason why our brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers were affected if America and Americans were the target?

My heart goes out to Kenyanswho were emotionally, physically and psychologically affected by this catastrophic event. Poleni sana ndugu zangu.

As we mark the 10th anniversary of this “event of torture” next week, let us appreciate the essence of being just Kenyan - the beauty of it - for the sake of our fallen friends.

Can you be Trusted?
Are you a condescending workmate?.

17 comments:

Vikii said...

Excellent post, brother Ritch!

The thing that makes me really mad is the dishonesty the US potrays in its politics. We are an innocent country that suffered merely because of their arrogant and reckless politics and yet they have shown utter contempt to the victims of that attack. People were thrashed into permanent disabilities, their worlds just came crashing and these guys, the world's richest country, has refused to compensate these victims. Surely, is that too much to ask?

The loud mouth of an ambassador, yes, that not so intelligent fellow called Michael Rannenberger, they sent to Nairobi is predictably quiet. Wait until he is asked about it and you will laugh. There is a legal firm, Mann and Mairone Attorneys, that is now trying to deflect attention by suing the governments of Iran and Sudan. Well, they cannot be held accountable for the actions of their government, but their actions do not amount to the highest form of honesty. It is pure gimmickry.

My heart goes out to those who lost their dear ones. Those whose lives were shattered as a result of that bomb.

P.S, does anyone have bin Laden's cell phone number by any chance? Please?

ritch said...

Thanx Vikii. Bin Laden's, phone number! Wewe acha mchezo. Do you want to be bombed? I think Saddam had it. But, alas, he is no more.

ritch said...

The victims of this dastardly act should be compensated PRONTO. They did not visit their suffering on themselves: they are bearing the pain that ought to have been borne by the Americans.

Anonymous said...

"Reminisce", while a correct term to use for the word "remember"- is actually often ued to recollect pleasant memories. Same way in French language, there are same sets of words that need to be used for two different ocassions...know? Now, 'notalgia' cannot be used for "Dark Friday" - or any other unpleasant memory, it is only used with the pleasant. Here is a definition from dictionary.com
"a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life, to one's home or homeland, or to one's family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time."

I see severe "broken" English and very incorrect grammar on this page and practically all of Kenyan media (Why?? don't you guys just use Swahili instead?)all the time but I had to speak up on this one owing to:
i. It's obviousness
ii. The great tragedy that you are recollecting on behalf of so many Kenyans...and how the wrong words can water it down.

Good day now and use language as fits...!

Anonymous said...

KENYANS SHOULD KNOW THE TRUE FACTS OF KIBAKI ILLNESS AND WHY PNU IS IN A HURRY TO NAME SUCCESSOR-

SNAP ELECTIONS WILL BE SOONER THAN MOST KENYANS THINK~

THIS IS THE SAME DISEASE KIBAKI MENTIONED TO RAILA TO CONVINCE HIM THE KIBAKI HAD NO CONTROL OVER HIS HEALTH AND TO AGREE ON GRAND COALITION SINCE IT WAS FOR A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME (WHERE KIBAKI WAS GOING TO BE ABLE TO MAKE SENSE OR BE IN STATEHOUSE:
AND WHICH DISEASE IS THIS SO LETHAL??

ALZHEIMER!!!
a disease that slowly destroys the nervous system and affects the functionality of the brain.
In early stages the disease makes one repeat words without knowing;(example kibaki's continuous repeating of words- lolote!lolote!! hivyo hivyo!and it has become worse- even sometimes medication he is taking does not help- example in parliament recently when he kept repeating the same sentences.... and was shown live on T.V and many people watched on youtube through KTN & NTV.

KENYANS WAKE UP STOP SLEEPING THE FIGHT IN PNU FOR SUPREMACY IS BECAUSE KIBAKI'S DISEASE HAS SPIRALED AND CAN'T BE CONTROLLED FOR LONG.Uhuru, Martha Karua, Kalonzo Musyoka , Saitoti all know this

but you see Kibaki Promised all the above the slot 1 using his illness.

In the case of ODM and Raila kibaki Knows very well that Raila won the Presidency yet again he used his ALZHEIMER!!!to gain pity and convince Raila that he won't be around for long - Raila to agree on a short period for a coalition government then he Kibaki will stop the bloodshed and order thre mungiki and the police to stop the shooting and massacres(it was bluntly put to Raila)
yet again he has renegaded on his word...at the expense of kenyans and many that died because of his kibaki madness.

For those who are wondering yes Kibaki promised all this people the same using his ALZHEIMER!!!condition as a bargaining chip!

Read on..............


http://www.scribd.com/doc/549038/KIBAKIS-ILLNESS1

Anonymous said...

The New Terrorist in Kenya is called Emilio Kibaki- he has killed more innocent kenyans in 2007 than the 1998 terrorist attack and he is still doing so
1. shoot to kill order to the police killed more than 3000 innocent kenyans (un-official independent reports-some have not been identified still laying in the morgues all over kenya)

(Mt. Elgon- more than 4000 youths dead or still missing -
Do not remind us of 1998- at least bless their souls - those kenyans were killed by strangers-

2007 terrorist attack was done by yours truly Emilio Kibaki and his cronies- a senile old full rigging elections and using human sacrifices to stay in power!




KENYANS SHOULD KNOW THE TRUE FACTS OF KIBAKI ILLNESS AND WHY PNU IS IN A HURRY TO NAME SUCCESSOR-

SNAP ELECTIONS WILL BE SOONER THAN MOST KENYANS THINK~

THIS IS THE SAME DISEASE KIBAKI MENTIONED TO RAILA TO CONVINCE HIM THE KIBAKI HAD NO CONTROL OVER HIS HEALTH AND TO AGREE ON GRAND COALITION SINCE IT WAS FOR A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME (WHERE KIBAKI WAS GOING TO BE ABLE TO MAKE SENSE OR BE IN STATEHOUSE:
AND WHICH DISEASE IS THIS SO LETHAL??

ALZHEIMER!!!
a disease that slowly destroys the nervous system and affects the functionality of the brain.
In early stages the disease makes one repeat words without knowing;(example kibaki's continuous repeating of words- lolote!lolote!! hivyo hivyo!and it has become worse- even sometimes medication he is taking does not help- example in parliament recently when he kept repeating the same sentences.... and was shown live on T.V and many people watched on youtube through KTN & NTV.

KENYANS WAKE UP STOP SLEEPING THE FIGHT IN PNU FOR SUPREMACY IS BECAUSE KIBAKI'S DISEASE HAS SPIRALED AND CAN'T BE CONTROLLED FOR LONG.Uhuru, Martha Karua, Kalonzo Musyoka , Saitoti all know this

but you see Kibaki Promised all the above the slot 1 using his illness.

In the case of ODM and Raila kibaki Knows very well that Raila won the Presidency yet again he used his ALZHEIMER!!!to gain pity and convince Raila that he won't be around for long - Raila to agree on a short period for a coalition government then he Kibaki will stop the bloodshed and order thre mungiki and the police to stop the shooting and massacres(it was bluntly put to Raila)
yet again he has renegaded on his word...at the expense of kenyans and many that died because of his kibaki madness.

For those who are wondering yes Kibaki promised all this people the same using his ALZHEIMER!!!condition as a bargaining chip!

Read on..............


http://www.scribd.com/doc/549038/KIBAKIS-ILLNESS1

Anonymous said...

The New Terrorist in Kenya is called Emilio Kibaki- he has killed more innocent kenyans in 2007 than the 1998 terrorist attack and he is still doing so
1. shoot to kill order to the police killed more than 3000 innocent kenyans (un-official independent reports-some have not been identified still laying in the morgues all over kenya)

(Mt. Elgon- more than 4000 youths dead or still missing -
Do not remind us of 1998- at least bless their souls - those kenyans were killed by strangers-

2007 terrorist attack was done by yours truly Emilio Kibaki and his cronies- a senile old full rigging elections and using human sacrifices to stay in power!




KENYANS SHOULD KNOW THE TRUE FACTS OF KIBAKI ILLNESS AND WHY PNU IS IN A HURRY TO NAME SUCCESSOR-

SNAP ELECTIONS WILL BE SOONER THAN MOST KENYANS THINK~

THIS IS THE SAME DISEASE KIBAKI MENTIONED TO RAILA TO CONVINCE HIM THE KIBAKI HAD NO CONTROL OVER HIS HEALTH AND TO AGREE ON GRAND COALITION SINCE IT WAS FOR A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME (WHERE KIBAKI WAS GOING TO BE ABLE TO MAKE SENSE OR BE IN STATEHOUSE:
AND WHICH DISEASE IS THIS SO LETHAL??

ALZHEIMER!!!
a disease that slowly destroys the nervous system and affects the functionality of the brain.
In early stages the disease makes one repeat words without knowing;(example kibaki's continuous repeating of words- lolote!lolote!! hivyo hivyo!and it has become worse- even sometimes medication he is taking does not help- example in parliament recently when he kept repeating the same sentences.... and was shown live on T.V and many people watched on youtube through KTN & NTV.

KENYANS WAKE UP STOP SLEEPING THE FIGHT IN PNU FOR SUPREMACY IS BECAUSE KIBAKI'S DISEASE HAS SPIRALED AND CAN'T BE CONTROLLED FOR LONG.Uhuru, Martha Karua, Kalonzo Musyoka , Saitoti all know this

but you see Kibaki Promised all the above the slot 1 using his illness.

In the case of ODM and Raila kibaki Knows very well that Raila won the Presidency yet again he used his ALZHEIMER!!!to gain pity and convince Raila that he won't be around for long - Raila to agree on a short period for a coalition government then he Kibaki will stop the bloodshed and order thre mungiki and the police to stop the shooting and massacres(it was bluntly put to Raila)
yet again he has renegaded on his word...at the expense of kenyans and many that died because of his kibaki madness.

For those who are wondering yes Kibaki promised all this people the same using his ALZHEIMER!!!condition as a bargaining chip!

Read on..............


http://www.scribd.com/doc/549038/KIBAKIS-ILLNESS1

b-carotene said...

I feel quite terrorised by the goon above who keeps screaming all over the blog--capital letters, exclamation marks, and all. Kwenda huko, you're not the only one who feels strongly about things.

In the meantime, thanks for your post Ritch and for reminding us the great tragedy that befell Kenyans 10 years ago and from which some will never ever recover. Very thoughtful of you!

The hamburger man in the embassy in Nairobi, as Vikii has guessed, is too busy communing with other terrorists (eg Molasses Raila) to pay proper attention to the victims of Kenya's sacrifice on behalf of America.

Phil said...

Vintage Vikii! Misplaced blame as usual.

First, it is the responsibility of non other than the Kenyan government to ensure the security of all Kenyans and all visitors within our borders.

Secondly, if there is anyone to bear responsibility for terrorist attacks in Kenya over the last 15 or so years, it is one Kalonzo Musyoka - our so called best performing minister for foreign affairs.

Lets remember also that Kalonzo has been in charge of Kenya's non-existent foreign affairs policy for so many years. Naturally, alqaida and other terrorsit have found it attractive to settle in this country.

Matter of fact, Kalonzo received a fake honorary degree just last week in recognition of his 'efforts' in the ministry of foreign affairs.

Global politics demand that all nations of the world unequivocally come out in the open and declare their stand on certain international issues. For instance, Raila Odinga's straight forward and humane stand on the Zimbabwean issue has brought the protagonaist to the negotiating table and now Zimbabweans are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. Not that it is an issue that came up this year!

Kalonzo's foreign affairs CV reads like international fugitive who's-who, not to mention global terrorism. Oh my....

-Alice Lakwena,
-Osama Bin Laden,
-Abdullah Ocalan,
-Felicien Kabuga,
-Siyaad Barre
-John Garang
-Yoweri Museveni
-Joseph Kabila
- Oromo Liberation Front

Vikii, I doubt if you would know some of these characters who Kalonzo gave a safe haven and haboured in this country together with his god father Daniel Arap Moi. It has been his policy to undermine elected governments in the region!

It is one thing to purport to declare wealth or receive useless doctorates, but it is quite another to sacrifice Kenyan lives purely for personal gain. Kalonzo approved it in 1998 and 2002 through terrorism and again in 2008 through electoral fraud.

We can only pray for God's blessings be upon him..... and Vikii.

Vikii said...

Phil, that is a stupendous obsession with Kalonzo.

Look, I am in the middle of something, but I will be sure to get back.

BTW, should we also blame Collin Powell for September 11? Should we blame the British minister for foreign servce for the attacks on a London subway? How about the madrid attacks?

And why the obsession with the Foreign Affairs minister? why not the defense one or the President himself who is on oath to protect his citizens?

You cannot afford to reduce global terror to your little ODM politics. That would be a little too naive.

Taabu said...

Phil,
What did Dr. Stevo steal from you that makes you so rabid with the brother? Chill man I trust Steve won't be teaching any of your pals or kin soon.

Anonymous said...

That was a defining moment in our country. The unity and show of love especially to those affected was admirable.
I wonder why we let ourselves sink so low!

Anonymous said...

Ritch

This is a thoughtful post that reflects on a horror that really changed lives and for some of us the way we do things.

Am sure there are a lot of interesting events that happened to many people around this time some very very tragic and for others God's providence delivered them from certain death, i being one of them.

If you recall (those who were old enough then) bank staff were on strike that month and so services were rendered by managers and as such would open briefly for maybe a couple to three hours then close typically that week standard bank opened the doors at 10:30

On that day i was to pick some documents from the embassy at 11am and decided to combine the trip with a trip to the bank. So at 10:30 i was at the door of Standard Bank (near the corner of harambee and moi avenue), and sure enough was probably third or fourth on the queue, in and out in 4 minutes and the crossed the road about 10:35 directly heading to the embassy through the path leading to Coop bank. Then God's providence happened, i remembered that i needed to get medicine for my child and crossed back to enter a chemist shop and just as i entered there was an explosion then followed by the most deafening sound ever, and glass came flying through shop as furniture was tossed around. the first minute was the most confused moment ever in my whole life, i was not running but started walking but could not know in which direction or why. must have been some kind of concussion due to teh shock wave. anyway i was able to regain full consciuosness within a few moments and started running towards the embassy. of course the crowd was running back in the oppposite direction, most with severe injury, some assisting each other, others obviously still in great shock. the most amazing thing is that as soon as an injured person approached any street, the first available car would immediately stop, help the injured into the vehicle and speed off towards KNH.

I proceeded to the quadrangle or area around the coop bank and i saw the collapsed building that took the lives of many kenyans. one thing that totally confounded me was that there were street boys/girls lying in that small field, sniffing at their glue and not a single one of them had been harmed by the many sheets of glass that came raining down on that quadrangle, they remained there for about 15 minutes almost in a daze but continuing with their business. together with a few guys (handful to begin with) at the scene we proceeded to the collapsed building and nearby areas to lend a hand, we were able to get to just a few, then the unthinkable happened. probabaly due to complete lack of knowledge maybe it was justified, but the first batch of police officers that got to the site or some idiot among them tear-gassed and dispersed us adding to the confusion. whereas i dont blame them for this action because basically the two or three banks in the vicinity were wide open but that was a poor demonstration of how ill prepared we were (probably still are) for disaster.

anyway we were able to assist a few get to hospital before being dispersed but i left that place with the heaviest feeling of great loss, because some of the most severly injured and who lost their lives, were bystanders, passengers in matatus and in buildings quite a distance from the embassy, whose only fault was trying to get to town, like myself maybe to rush to the bank before it closed.

As we remember the victims of these tragedies and their families and friends, lets also remember those others in similar tragedies that happened (train accident/fire at i believe it was near athi river, another train disaster when a bridge was washed away near coast, ferry disaster not forgeting the prison warders killed when their truck overturned)

because we can make a difference, i know we can put our minds together to bring hope to this country and in the manner in which we do things

UrXlnc

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ritch for this post. You are truly a son of Kenya.

nyagine said...

UrXlnc,

I'm touched. Isn't it amazing that after such a tragedy we still haven't put our house in order? Ours is to wait for a disaster, mourn, pile the blame on someone and carry on as if nothing happened.

Sadly, we are staring at not just one, but multiple disasters waiting to happen.

Just last week the transport minister casually admitted that our ferries are nearly breaking apart. That is scary!

What of pothole filled airport runways not to mention our dillapidated roads.

What of the capacity of our firefighting departments that have to make do with old or non-existent staff/equipment and who in most cases have no idea where the fire hydrants 'used to be' (city hall incident).

Ten years ago, my neighbour perished in a house fire because the firefighters couldn't get to her fast enough. To make matters worse, the guys were too old to hold the hose pipes and the task was left to my brothers and the few younger men around (who incidentally were all jobless).

We seriously need a radical change in the casual manner that we do things.

Anonymous said...

Very true Nyagine

very true

UrXlnc

Anonymous said...

@non 10:25 AM
2 the self anointed guardian of the Victorian language, English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language, the world's (make it 'Kenyan media') preminent spotter of severe "broken" English and very incorrect grammar.

Your point is well taken as always - I see severe "broken"English and very incorrect grammar on this page and practically all of Kenyan media (Why?? don't you guys just use Swahili instead?) all the time but I had to speak up on this one owing to ...

First of all, on behalf of all the incorrect grammarians and writers of "broken" Queen's language, I would like to sincerely apologise for all the ongoing murderous grammar errors and perpetual breaking of English language bones on pratically every all of Kenyan media wherever it's located.

Please excuse one of the residual side-effects of our colonial mentality. Your constant observations are highly appreciated by all concerned.

By the way, does the golden name J.K. Rowling ring a bell? I guess you must be well acquainted with her due to the very fact that you are widely regarded as one of the greatest writer in the English language and guardian of the Victorian language.

What do you do for a living?

Wait, wait, don't tell the incorrect grammarians club members on this page and practically all of Kenyan media that you are the next J.K. Rowlings. Is it true that you are going to become one soon?

Well, we can't wait for your new release that will ultimately rival J.K. Rowlings'last book in terms of readership and income at your favourite banks.

Our dear J.K. Rowlings is a writer who strongly believes that, "... you have moral responsibility when you have been given far more than you need, to od wise things with it and give intelligently.

When all said and done, you seem to have been given far more than you need in the literary sphere of the English language, and consequently all writers of "broken"English and active members of the Incorrect Grammarian Club extend their gratitude and best wishes for your great works in English that will be released before the end of this season.

We would like you to know that, we are looking forward to benefiting from your social, moral, intellectual and political inspiration that will give to your fandom on this page and practically all of Kenyan media.

Don't forget to take note that for most of us English is our third language, Swahili is our second language and we all have our own national languages, call them native or ethnic or local vernacular languages if you will. Of course, that's no excuse for botching the Queen's language at the onset every opportunity.

And above all, excuse my current-cum-lifetime membership in the Incorrect Grammarian Club, there is nothing that is salvageable in the department of my language skills - I lost everyhting the moment I walked into a class where native children were being instructed through a elegant medium that is better known the precious Queen's language.

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