“I come here to refresh my mind after a busy day in town. Having lost a cousin who was travelling in a bus hit by the bomb, the memorial park serves to refresh the memories we shared,” says Mr Wilfred Kimary, a pensioner who used to work in the neighbouring Solar House, located behind Ufundi House. He was lucky to escape the blast because he was on leave.
Next to Mr Kimary is a group of four students from the German Institute of Professional Studies. For them, convenience makes the park suitable for holding group discussions.
“I come here daily, it is peaceful, quiet, and clean, and it has Wi-Fi. I’m always here by 7am,” says Redempter Kalewa, one of the students.
“In a way this space creates a sense of appreciation for the peace and tranquility we are enjoying today,” says Redempter’s classmate, Magdaline Gitau.
The memorial park was created from the land on which the Ufundi Cooperative Building and the former US Embassy once stood. It has attracted several dignitaries, among them former US President Barack Obama. It does not receive any funding from the US or Kenya and is run by the August 7th Memorial Trust.
However, the park is yet to be recognised as a national heritage site, which makes it ineligible for government funding. Mr James Kiragu, chairman of the trust, says the park is crippled by inadequate resources and has often struggled to stay afloat.
“All the money that is collected at the gate, from rent of the few shops and hiring out the facility for concerts and events goes into paying salaries for the security personnel and staff,” says Mr Kiragu. The park charges Sh30 per per person.
Inside the museum, hand-written messages of peace and solidarity from local and international visitors are pinned on the walls. Survivor stories, pictures of the blast, an audio-visual room hosting a 45-minute documentary called Seconds to Disaster, done by National Geographic, and debris from the blast can be found in the museum.
Visitors who pay Sh100 get to watch the documentary.