HISTORICAL FACILITY

KDF has not seized Uhuru Gardens, Museums boss clarifies

The iconic facility is being rehabilitated by the military after decades of neglect.

In Summary

• The closure was announced in June by Sports, Heritage and Culture Cabinet Secretary for Amina Mohamed. 

• Uhuru Gardens is a popular venue for, among others, school parties, corporate launches, concerts, weddings and film-making.

The welcoming monument at the entrance of Uhuru Gardens:Courtesy.
ONE YEAR CLOSURE: The welcoming monument at the entrance of Uhuru Gardens:Courtesy.

The National Museums of Kenya has dismissed claims that its 60-acre Uhuru Gardens along Lang'ata Road has been taken over by the Kenya Defence Forces.

The land is intact, NMK director of Antiquities, Sites and Monuments Purity Kiura told the Star by phone.

“The land has not been transferred. However, there are developments going on with a view of being improved into heroes' memorial park,” Kiura said.

She was reacting to fears expressed by some nature lovers that the property might have been seized by the KDF whose Lang'ata Barracks share a border with the iconic gardens.

It was declared a national monument in 1966, three years after the Kenyan flag was hoisted there on Independence Day - December 12, 1963.

It is Kenya’s largest memorial park. As such, its historical importance as Kenya’s birthplace cannot be gainsaid.

A mugumo tree planted there by the founding father of the nation, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, after the Union Jack was lowered and the Kenyan flag was hoisted, is a national monument. It will soon be joined by Mashujaa/Heroes' Corner now under construction.

The site has diverse flora and savannah woodland, attracting thousands of  recreational seekers and nature lovers.

It is a popular venue for, among others, school parties, corporate launches, concerts, weddings and film making.

NMK says it has plans to improve the park to have a wider variety of leisure activities for all. On a normal day, the park opens from 8am to 6pm.

However, the Star on Wednesday established that the facility has been fenced off with iron sheets painted green for upgrading. Green is associated with the Army, hence the fears that it has been taken over by the soldiers.

Kiura explained that KDF has the expertise and equipment to do the upgrading job.

“It (the job) has been on hold for many years as the Culture Ministry is not financed well,” she said, adding that the site will be ready in a year's time.

The  closure was announced in June by Sports, Heritage and Culture Cabinet Secretary for Amina Mohamed. 

“The state of the historical grounds was very dilapidated. The grounds need to be renovated and historical monuments put back to the right shapes,” Amina said. 

She said the dilapidated sculptures and monuments would be restored to their original forms.

“It is sad that a historical and sacred ground is in a dilapidated state. The closure will see renovation of the sculptures and monuments that have been destroyed," she noted.

We unsuccessfully sought the views of the KDF and National Land Commission.

On Tuesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta defended his decision to involve the military in jobs that ordinarily would be done by civilians.

The head of state spoke at City County Garage on Dar es Salaam Road in Industrial Area where he flagged off 87 trucks and light vehicles rehabilitated by KDFfor the Maj-Gen Mohamed Badi-led Nairobi Metropolitan Services. 

The NMS is involved in the city regeneration programme.

The county government had condemned the vehicles for sale as scrap metal.

 

- mwaniki fm