Remembering the 1998 Nairobi terror attack: cultural and trauma memory and the reconciliation of a nation

Lagat, Ivan K. (2014) Remembering the 1998 Nairobi terror attack: cultural and trauma memory and the reconciliation of a nation. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

At around 10:30 am on 7th August, 1998, a truck was stopped as it approached the rear entrance of the U.S. embassy building in Nairobi, instigating a brief argument and confrontation between the 'Arab-looking' men in the truck and the embassy guards. This led to a shoot-out between them before a powerful explosion completely tore down half of the embassy while the entire Ufundi Cooperative Building next to it collapsed to the ground. The
site of the embassy and its adjacent streets were in a total state of chaos. In the aftermath of the attack 218 people were declared dead, over 5000 injured and property worth billions of Kenyan shillings destroyed. The bombing remains one of the worst terror attacks to have happened on Kenyan soil. Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terror group, through a proxy, (the Liberation Army for the Islamic Sanctuary), claimed responsibility. In their reportage of the
rescue effort, the Kenyan media took what has been perceived as an ethnically inclined coverage by focussing on two Kikuyu victims, Rose Wanjiku and Sammy Nganga, as the most victimized; portrayed as the paragons of a reckless act of terrorism.
This study, therefore, focuses on August 7th 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi
and argues that the memories of the attack are constructed and mediated through visual and performance art. These memories are utilized in the management of trauma and the
promotion of reconciliation in a post-terrorism situation in Kenya. An examination of ethnicity reveals its perversity and its threat to Kenya’s tenuous nationalism and identity. The recent attack on Westgate Shopping Mall, on 21st September, 2013, and the ongoing Islamic radicalisation of youth in Kenya, means that the narrative of this study has continual resonance.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art History and World Art Studies
Depositing User: Brian Watkins
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2015 12:34
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2015 12:34
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/52066
DOI:

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