Kenyans injured in embassy explosion visit Oklahoma City bomb site


Wednesday, June 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- His sense of sight taken from him after an explosion at the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, Douglas Sidialo relied on his sense of touch Wednesday to experience the site of another act of terrorism.
The former marketing executive for Yamaha Motor Co. led a small contingency of his 1,500-member "Visual Seventh August" support group to Oklahoma City for a weeklong visit that included a trip to the Oklahoma City National Memorial. The support group had been organized after the embassy bombing.
Oklahoma City bombing survivors filled in details for the Kenyan visitors about the $29.1 million memorial, which opened on th ebombing's fifth anniversary two months ago.
Some of the Kenyans wore T-shirts bearing their group's name.
"Visual Seventh August refers to, after all the terrible things that happened, there is a light at the end of the tunnel," said Julie Ogoye, a teacher who was injured in the explosion.
Seventh August refers to the day the embassy bombing happened -- Aug. 7,1998.
Bud Welch, whose daughter was killed in the April 19, 1995,bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, led Sidialo past a chain-link barrier to the grounds where 168granite-and-bronze chairs symbolizing those who were killed sat.
Tourists are temporarily barred from walking onto that part of the site while newly planted grass takes hold.
Welch provided description as Sidialo touched one of the chairs. Sidialo knelt and clasped his hands in brief prayer.
Afterward, Sidialo, who is chairman of the "Visual Seventh August," called the site a "holy place, a very holy place."
"We just feel we identify with all those who suffered the blast in Oklahoma. I feel that now, we're just one family wounded by thiscurse, inflicted onto us by both the bomb blasts in Kenya and Oklahoma."
Welch said the Murrah survivors want to help the Kenyans deal with what Oklahomans felt after the federal building blast.
"We've had 40 more months to get through our tragedy than they have. For them it's still fresh and there are lots of rough road ahead of them," he said.
Sidialo was driving near the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi when a terrorist bomb exploded, killing 213 people, including 12Americans. More than 5,000 people were injured. Most of those injured in Nairobi were passers-by like Sidialo who were hit by razor-sharp shards of glass propelled at bullet-like speeds by the force of the car bomb.