Another terrible date has come and gone for Prudence Bushnell. She was the American ambassador to Kenya on August 7, 1998, when a huge bomb exploded in front of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. “Every year in mid-July,” she says, an “internal clock” goes off in her gut as the anniversary approaches. “On the 7th and 8th, I feel really horrible, and then it goes away.” Until the next mid-July.
Forty-four American embassy employees were killed and 21 seriously wounded by the truck bomb that exploded at the gate. The heaviest toll fell on ordinary Kenyans. About 200 were killed and 4,000 injured by the huge blast in the vicinity of the embassy. Down the East African coast, another bomb went off nearly simultaneously at the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania, killing 11 and wounding 85. They were the opening blasts in Osama bin Laden’s war against America.
Those blasts could have been minimized, if not entirely prevented, she argues in a memoir she has just finished and shared exclusively with Newsweek. “It’s one of the many forgotten conflicts,” says Bushnell, now 70, of the Africa attacks, “but I’ve come to peace with it.”