NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 7 – August 7, 2013, will not only go down as the day when Kenya’s main airport suffered a massive fire that crippled operations but also the day when victims of the 1998 US embassy bombing marked the 15th anniversary since that tragedy.
While the Wednesday morning mishap at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport did not leave any deaths in its wake, the 1998 August bombing led to the loss of more than 200 lives with thousands others suffering life changing wounds.
And 15 years since the devastating incident, survivors once again congregated at the August 7 Memorial Park on Moi Avenue where they prayed, laid wreathes and narrated their harrowing experiences and challenges since the bombing.
“I don’t have anything and I can’t work to eke a living because of the injuries I suffered at the time and we keep coming here every year hoping that things will get better for us,” said a victim who only identified herself as Gathoni.
Many of the victims also faulted the Kenyan and American governments for abandoning them and forgetting their plight.
The survivors insist that they had never been compensated although reports indicated that they got Sh30,000 each.
Among those who lost their lives was Doreen Aluoch but her mother travelled all the way from Kisumu to mark the anniversary of her daughter’s death.
“We need to pray and leave everything to God because God can even make the government give us something small to wipe our tears. I didn’t know my daughter would die on that day and in that manner,” she recalled.
Interestingly, high level officials from the two governments stayed away from the commemoration which was attended by Nairobi Senator Mike Mbuvi alias Sonko, Nairobi County Speaker Alex ole Magelo and former Nairobi mayor Nathan Kahara.
Sonko, who was moved by the financial challenges facing some of the survivors, donated Sh300,000 to go towards paying school fees for some of the needy children.
“A lot of the people you see here can’t walk were once okay; some of those who are now blind had vision and some of those who lost their loved ones in the bombing, were once full family units. I just want to say pole and to remind you that God is with you,” said Sonko.
Magelo also faulted the government for not paying attention to the victims.
“Important people and heads of state have come here but to my surprise and shock things are still the same way they were after the disaster. The question is why?” he asked.