In Summary
  • Uhuru Gardens, which contains a number of national monuments dedicated to celebrating Kenya’s independence, is Kenya’s national memorial park.
  • One of the reasons that Kenyans seems to forget what happens to us as a nation might be because we are not good at creating memorials.
  • As indigenous language takes a back step in national life, events remembered through language are getting less.
  • National events that might have been worth memorials included the Kenyans who were lost in the violence following the 2007 elections. This might give Kenyans a reason to remember their own ‘never again vow’.

Uhuru Gardens, which contains a number of national monuments dedicated to celebrating Kenya’s independence, is Kenya’s national memorial park.

Set aside at the dawn of independence by the government to honour, celebrate and serve as a memorial for the country’s independence day. It is often confused with Uhuru Park, a recreational park in the central business district, that was made famous by Kenya’s Nobel Laureate, the late Prof. Wangari Mathaai.

Uhuru Gardens, however, is the park in which the Kenya’s national flag was hoisted as the Union Jack was brought down on night of December 12, 1963, to mark the day when Kenya became a republic. Another flag was also simultaneously hoisted on Lenana Peak, on Mt. Kenya the same night.

At Uhuru Gardens, at the position on which the flag was hoisted, stands a Mugumo tree that was planted by the first president of Kenya, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, in 1964. The choice of Mugumo, a sycamore fig tree, was deliberate. The tree is thought of as sacred by many communities in Kenya and Africa. One of the beliefs that surround it is that it cannot be cut, without asking it for consent in a traditional ceremony conducted by elders.

It was therefore an ideal tree to serve as a memorial as many people would hesitate to fell it, even in a country that has lost a good share of her forest cover to logging. It is also one of the few natural phenomena that has been used to memorialise an important event in Kenya, making it a good site to visit.

SYMBOLIC GESTURE

In 2013, when Kenya celebrated 50 years of independence, President Uhuru Kenyatta planted a commemorative olive tree 50 steps from the Mugumo, in a symbolic gesture signifying the 50 years that had passed since the first tree was planted.

Though the tradition form of memorials is cemeteries, many nations in the world have moved forward and created memorials for many events that their own nations need to remember, either as lessons, reasons or celebrations.

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