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Ellen kneels at the August 7 Memorial monument. It bears names of those who perished 15 years ago. Photo/ FELIX MAGARA


Wish it was me who died – ’98 bomb survivor

Ellen kneels at the August 7 Memorial monument. It bears names of those who perished 15 years ago. Photo/ FELIX MAGARA

Ellen kneels at the August 7 Memorial monument. It bears names of those who perished 15 years ago. Photo/ FELIX MAGARA

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 7- “I wish I died because those who died (on August 7, 1998) are lucky.”

It is not every day that you hear someone wishing death upon themselves but 54 year old Ellen Adhiambo did just that.

And she uttered the shocking words on the day when she joined fellow survivors of the 1998 August bombing to mark the 15th anniversary.

Now read her story…

You see, Adhiambo is a troubled woman and she has gone as far as jumping from a storeyed building to cut her life short.

But clearly, her date with the grim reaper has not yet come.

“At least those who died on August 7, 1998 got their rest. I keep forgetting things and that means I can’t work very well and that is why I keep crying. I am tired of all the hardships I have endured and continue enduring,” says the mother of three.

She is certainly at the end of her tether and as tears stream down her face, one cannot fail but empathise with her.

Poverty compounded by the helplessness she feels, have left her a mere shadow of her former self.

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And despite surviving the fatal bombing, Adhiambo doesn’t feel lucky at all.

“I used to work and make a living for myself but now I can’t. I cannot fend for myself and I can’t keep borrowing. Do you know how many times I have slept outside after being kicked out of the house for lack of rent?” she asks rhetorically.

Adhiambo caught journalists’ eyes when she started wailing and calling out to God while she was praying as celebrations to mark the country’s 15th anniversary at the Memorial Park on Moi Avenue were underway.

She says she has nothing to celebrate; her debilitating wounds acting as a constant reminder to something she would rather forget.

“We keep coming to this place but who will hear our cry? Who will save us? How are we expected to live?” she asks.

She broke her left wrist during the bombing and efforts to make it better have failed.

Her radius bone can be seen protruding precariously underneath her skin; a fact that has given her left hand a deformity.

“I have been in and out of hospital and most of the drugs I’m asked to buy are beyond my means so I look for cheaper alternatives which obviously won’t have the same effect. Like there were some I was asked to buy which cost about Sh500. What else can I do?” she once again asks.

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Adhiambo’s eyes and ears were also affected during the bombing and she has since struggled with hearing and vision.

Her thighs lost feeling and have been like that since she left the Kenyatta National Hospital in 1998, where she was rushed in critical condition.

She doesn’t even know how she ended up there in the first place.

“Even if you pinched me I wouldn’t feel a thing. It’s like my thighs have turned into stone. And sometimes I shake and I don’t understand what is happening to me,” she explains.

Sometimes she appears dazed and other times she gets lost and even forgets her way home.

People think she is mad and it is difficult to know what makes her troubles worse.

But what stands is that it is definitely not easy walking in her shoes even though one would think that her journey should have become easier, especially after 15 years.

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