We Come Out Stronger Out of Any Situation! | Citizen Support Mechanism

None had it in mind that we will come out stronger after a tragedy intended to trigger so much fear. We’ve stood the test of time, and we are a resilient nation.

Friday, August 7th, 1998 is a day not to be erased from Kenya’s history. It started as a normal, glowing working day with people busy in their activities but turned out to be dreadful when a loud bang followed with a thick plume of smoke suddenly rose hundreds of feet into the air and saw glass and masonry fill the atmosphere.

On that fateful day, I woke up at dawn to walk for 7 km to my place of work the US Embassy in Nairobi where I worked as a cleaner. I arrived before sunrise and began my day with a word of prayer as usual, then started my cleaning job.

The US embassy sat on one of the busiest and most important street corners in the city, constantly filled with parades, demonstrations, protests and perpetual cacophony of the notorious Nairobi traffic. I had just finished my 10 o’clock tea when I heard a loud bang that sounded like a gunshot and I couldn’t fathom it well. Although Kenya is a popular destination for big game hunting, private gun ownership is restricted, I immediately knew something was wrong and before I could comprehend, I heard an explosion.

I leaped up and ran down the stairs, a decision that saved my life as I had just left the 3rd floor when the main explosion hit. Steel and concrete occupied the space where I had been sitting seconds before. Enormous pressure wave blew down the stairs almost knocking me off my feet. The sound was so great that it seemed soundless. A fierce wind of debris filled the air followed with darkness. I stopped and dropped. All the power went off and there was an overwhelming smell of dust and soon followed by black smoke. Breathing became difficult and the power surge visibility was impaired due to the darkness that engulfed the building. I was terrified and I knew I had to get out of the building as soon as possible. As I struggled to get my way out, I was joined by a couple of other people and we held hands as we groped in the dark for the nearest door. We finally found our way out and got the news of what had transpired. The simultaneous bombings in Nairobi and Dar es salaam had been planned meticulously by the Al Qaeda and Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

Kenyans are used to looking out for each other and many of them helped evacuate bombing victims.

I stood to hear from the security guards narrate to journalists on how the attackers drove their pickup truck into the parking lot. The driver and passengers insisted that they had a special delivery for the embassy loading dock. Indeed, they did a hundred pounds of explosives. When the guards refused to allow them in as the truck had no authority to enter, the attackers began shooting and threw a grenade. The drop arm remained locked with its padlock as the guards ran for cover. The frustrated terrorists then triggered the bomb in the rear parking lot instead of beneath the embassy as planned.