#CityParkMemories: In Loving Memory of

Martinho Jose Lobo Beloved son of Julia Maria & Antonio Xavier (1921 - 1949)
“This is the wealthiest place,” commented Lela on Saturday the 12th of December 2020, as we stood by the Commonwealth War Graves at Forest Road Cemetery, City Park. Indeed, the ages on the tombstones ranged from 18 to 30, and one cannot help but wonder what would have happened if the world wars never happened and the young souls lived. The perfectly maintained Commonwealth War Graves are a reminder of the sacrifices that were made by the young. If the youth in the First and Second World Wars did not step up when called upon, how would the world have turned out?

City Park’s cemeteries (Forest Road Cemetery and Nairobi City Park Cemetery) reflect the long history of Nairobi’s service to the world, its struggle for independence, the diversity of its population, and its segregated spaces. Prior to independence, the cemeteries in Nairobi were divided by ethnicity. At City Park, they are divided to include a Jewish cemetery, a Goan section of the cemetery as well as sections related to Commonwealth wars.

Also buried in City Park are two beloved children of Kenya; Pio Gama Pinto (1927-1965) and Joseph Murumbi (1911 – 1990). Pio Gama Pinto, a leader in the fight for Kenya’s Independence rests here with his Father A. F. da Gama Pinto (1897 – 1957). A.F. De Gama Pinto was buried in City Park while his son was in detention at Lamu during the Emergency.

Replica of Pio Pinto Gama’s Tombstone. The quote reads “If He Has Been Extinguished Yet There Arise A Thousand Beacons From The Spark He Bore.”

It is said that while in detention Pinto was able to organize a vibrant football team, he was indeed a fiery ball of rebellious positive energy, a model for the Kenyan youth. The foundations of Kenya’s Independence was brought about by the sacrifice of many young men and women.

Because the Goan cemetery was full, Joseph Murumbi, Kenya’s second Vice President and renowned collector of African art is buried, at his request, just outside the Goan section of the cemetery as near as possible to his friend and colleague Pio Gama Pinto. Around his grave is a quiet Peace Memorial Sculpture Garden set up in his honor.

Entrance to the Murumbi Memorial. [Photo: FoCP]

Today, the City Park Cemeteries are all full except for the Jewish Cemetery. You can always tell a Commonwealth War Grave from the other graves at City Park because they are beautifully maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Sadly, besides these graves, the Murumbi Memorial which is maintained by the National Museums of Kenya and the Jewish cemetery, all other graves have not been properly maintained by the Cemeteries Department of Nairobi Metropolitan Services. There is clear vandalism on some tombstones and a general sense of insecurity for visitors at Forest Road Cemetery.

by: Karimi Kimathi and Bettina Ng’weno.

2 Responses to “#CityParkMemories: In Loving Memory of”

  1. Viki21/12/2020 at 9:34 am #

    Why would anyone vandalise a cemetery?? Thanks for the good read and raising awareness on improving the state of the cemetery. The relevant body should be responsible but people should also refrain from destroying it.

    • Friends22/12/2020 at 8:21 am #

      Thank you, Viki, for the feedback. Keep a lookout for a future blog post where we plan to engage the government authorities in charge of the security and maintenance of the Cemeteries.

Leave a Reply