There is one little garden that not only sparks interest in the historical part, but is also an attraction in its own right… the Uhuru Gardens.
On 12th December 1963, the biggest birthday party ever. Although it is midnight, temperatures are hotter than hot. Thousands of people gathered. Hopes are high. Two great flags: one coming down and another moving higher up.
The end to a colonial era is marked by celebration of the birth of a new nation.Ten years later, the largest memorial park in Nairobi is built at this spot, forever immortalizing the struggle for Independence.
Off Langata road
Apparently, there is an urban myth in Nairobi: before you enter the Uhuru Gardens, pick up a Power-sandwich and an Afia juice from Uchumi Langata. (Not advertising!)
A sunny Nairobi afternoon, few clouds in the blue sky and the mood is relaxed. After fulfilling the myth, we proceed to the Garden’s compound off Langata road, pay the access fee and find a great parking spot.
There are other visitors too, probably also enjoying power-sandwiches, but definitely loving the relaxing scenery.
The landmark of the Uhuru Gardens is the 78 foot high monument. Beautiful in design and rich in symbolism, it can be divided into three parts.
In the centre, a triumphal column which houses large clasped hands: beneath, protecting a heart of love; above, supporting a dove of peace. If it is your first time viewing the column, trust you will either strain your neck from staring upwards, or fill the memory of your camera. All in all, you will enjoy the moment.
On the left side of the monument, the figure of a man, standing tall and eager, in front of a symbolic shield chiseled out of rock. On the right side of the monument stands a statue of a group of freedom fighters helping each other to raise the Kenyan flag. We are also told that on that day in 1963, a man named Kisio Munyao made history by planting the Kenyan flag atop Mt. Kenya.
The statue perfectly captures the spirit and optimism of independence.
Big tree over there
There is one large tree that is at the centre of the Gardens. In the hot sun, it might provide the perfect shade to relax, but when you are told why it’s there, you will look at it differently.
It is an ‘Ihara Tree’ marks the exact spot where the Kenyan national flag was first hoisted… planted by the founding father Jomo Kenyatta himself.
To mark the 25th anniversary, a musical fountain and monument was constructed, directly opposite the triumphal column. The contemporary design is gentle on the eyes. In full working condition, it offers the perfect viewing platform for a mini concert.
All in all, the Uhuru Gardens is a great place to visit. It offers a relaxed environment, within the busy city; A place to remember the past and appreciate the future.