Prudence Bushnell, former US ambassador to Kenya
Even as events leading to the August 8th general elections overshadowed the commemoration of the August 7th, 1998 bomb attack on the US ambassador to Kenya and Tanzania that killed over 200 Kenyans, 12 Americans and 10 Tanzanians, Prudence Bushnell, the then US ambassador to Kenya remembers the incident like it happened yesterday.
She says she is still haunted by the fact that the Nairobi bombing could have been prevented or its impact at least could have been lessened had officials in Washington listened to her calls.
Ms Bushnell recounts the attack as and aftermath in her yet to be published memoir entitled Rattling Teacups: An Ambassador's Story.
She recounts a top-floor meeting in the adjoining Cooperative Bank House and how she was thrown to the floor as flying glass lacerated her face and hands.
She says that, despite repeatedly urging US security officials to install stronger defenses at the embassy, her calls fell on a deaf ear.
“Congress had starved the State Department of money for many years,” Ms Bushnell said in an interview .
“There was no money to do what needed to be done.”
Even after the attack, little response was given by the American authorities.
“The bombing occurred at the time of a political scandal in Washington involving Bill Clinton and [White House intern] Monica Lewinsky,” Ms Bushnell said.
“We got coverage for three or four days. Then the world and Washington moved on.”
"The US Congress never held a hearing on the destruction the Kenya and Tanzania diplomatic compounds, nor did the Clinton administration carry out a formal “after-action review”, she added.
With bad blood existing between her and President Moi, the attack presented a chance for the two to have a first direct encounter.
“He wouldn't see me for three months after I arrived,” she recounted.
“He didn't say so, but he was displeased that the US had appointed a woman to succeed a female ambassador [Aurelia Brazeal, who held the post from 1993 to 1996].”
"When we finally met, the president “argued an enormous amount”, Ms Bushnell recalled.
While Bushnell was pushing for action on corruption and political violence, Moi “kept saying 'Americans don't understand Africa — don't understand that the people love me'".
"Corruption and political violence remain common in today's Kenya, Ms Bushnell said, although she acknowledges Kenya's economic gains in the past 20 years.
“I hope,” she added, “that Kenyans will soon get the system they deserve — political figures who respect the rule of law, the electoral process and the rights of people who may not have vetoed for them”.
Although US gave Kenya more than $40 million (Sh4bn) to cover victims' medical expenses, Kenyans who suffered injuries or personal losses in the attacks continue to press for personal compensation through lawsuits filed in US courts. 70 year Bushnell also never received compensation for injuries and trauma and was forced to pay for therapy out of her own pocket.
She hopes her “Rattling Teacups” memoir will find a publisher before next year's 20th anniversary of the attack that affected her life as well as her career.