Dr. Kiprop Lagat
Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage
Kiprop Lagat is the Director of Culture in the Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts. He previously worked as a Principal Research Scientist in the Department of Cultural Heritage at the National Museums of Kenya between 1997 and 2015. He has research interests and has written on processes of memorialisation, museum studies and pastoralism in eastern Africa. Dr. Lagat received his PhD from the University of East Anglia in 2015.
Contested Memorialization: the 1998 Nairobi terror attack on the United States of America embassy
Kenya does not have an established pattern of memorializing the dead at the state level but this is instead ‘worked out’ as it happens. This paper, therefore, analyses the multiple processes of memorialization in the aftermath of the August 7, 1998 bombing of the United States embassy building in Nairobi. It also examines the different narratives created through the monuments and exhibitions that were developed to remember, not only those who lost their lives during the tragedy, but also to the many survivors who were affected by it. It first discusses the spontaneous responses by individuals and non-organized groups through a canvas erected by three visual artists to solicit public responses to this tragedy. These became among the very first efforts towards capturing the memory of the terror attack. It further analyses the artistic representations, including exhibitions and memorial monuments paying tribute to the victims of this tragedy at the August 7th Memorial Park. These artworks and visual symbolisms are instrumental in the creation, transmission and mediation of the bomb blast memories. For Kenya, these forms of memorialization were created in different ways, with very different aims in mind but have nonetheless offered diverse opportunities for engagement in memorialization.