By Maina Kiarie
Uhuru Gardens is located in the Lang’ata area of Nairobi, along Lang’ata Road, bordering Carnivore Restaurant to the south and Wilson Airport to the east. It was gazetted as a national monument in 2006 while under the management of the City Council of Nairobi. In 2008, the site was acquired by the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) and apart from being a national heritage site, it also serves as the seat of the NMK’s Central Region office.
Uhuru Gardens is Nairobi’s largest memorial park to the struggle for independence from the British government. There are two monuments at the site: one a commemorative monument to the struggle for independence and two a monument with a fountain about a hundred metres away marking 25 years of Uhuru – peace, love and unity monument.
The independence commemorative monument was constructed in 1973 upon the spot where Uhuru (freedom/independence) from colonial rule was declared at midnight of December 12, 1963. On the same night at this location the first president of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, was inaugurated. Here a crowd of over 40,000 gathered to watch the proceedings as Kenya was declared independent.
The commemorative monument is a 24-metre high triumphal column, supporting a pair of clasped hands and a dove of peace. On one side of this monument is a statue of freedom fighters raising the Kenyan flag.
A fig tree at the site marks the spot where the national flag was first hoisted after the Union Jack (flag of the United Kingdom) was lowered indicating the birth of the nation, Kenya.