Nairobi started as a railway depot back in 1899. The British were building a railway from Mombasa on the coast to Kampala in Uganda and soon the little outpost became its headquarters.
The former swamp land occupied by the city now was once inhabited by the herding people, the Maasai, under the British East Africa protectorate when the British decided to build a railroad from Mombasa to Kisumu on the edge of Lake Victoria in order to open East Africa and make it accessible for trade and encourage colonial settlements. The Maasai were forcibly removed to allow land for white ranchers.
In 1896, work on the railway began. A British railroad camp and supply depot for the Uganda Railway was built in the Maasai area in 1899. The building soon became the railway’s headquarters and a town grew up surrounding it, named after a watering hole known in Maasai as Ewaso Nyirobi, meaning “cool waters.”
Kenya has come a long way since then. They even have a KFC. And their KFC delivers! I find it a bit backwards that KFC in America looks like what it is, a fast food joint, whereas overseas, just like in Bucharest, KFC has a bit of an upscale look.
But if Nduku wanted to get some chicken, her first choice would probably be KenChic, like the one below where she used to go a lot when she was growing up in Nairobi.
When Nduku went to get her hair done — all of $20 for a $300 do in America; hair included — I walked the city. Nzambi was gracious enough to take a sleeping Najwa with her to the oldest sister’s house; so it was me, my camera and a bunch of Kenyans staring at me.
The Automotive Association of Kenya was founded in 1919 by Lionel Douglas Galton Fenzi as the Royal East Africa Automobile Association. The first chairman was the then Governor of Kenya, Sir Edward Northey, while Fenzi served as the Honorary Secretary until his death on May 15, 1937.
In 1923, Galton Fenzi started negotiating for loan cars so that they could be tested under East African conditions. He received several vehicles, notably among them a Riley 12/50 from the Riley Motor Car Co. Ltd of Coventry, which was used by Fenzi and Captain Gethin to pioneer a route from Nairobi to Mombasa in January 1926, a distance of 300 miles. He also pioneered the Nairobi – Dar-es-Salaam to Malawi route, and the Nairobi Khartoum route.
In America we take for granted our mail being delivered directly to our doorstep. Six days a week the men and women trudge through rain, snow, sleet and sunshine to bring us flyers, ads, bills, collection letters, tickets from the police, solicitations for insurance and an occasional greeting card from an old fashion friend or family member.
In Kenya, as in most of the world, everyone has to go to the post office and pick up their own mail. Addresses don’t consist of a street number and street name. Instead, addresses are cross streets, building names and floor numbers.
Several years ago I sent Nduku a Valentine’s Day card while she was in Kenya visiting. I wanted to test out a theory of hers. It’s understood that when an envelope shaped like a greeting card arrives from places like America, there’s a chance there’s money inside. The postal workers, not quite making high wages, take the liberty to liberate any money that might be being sent. I didn’t put any money in the card, but the card never did make it to the Malombe post office box.
From the day it opened its doors in 1902, Sarova Stanley, a 5 star hotel in Nairobi, has been making history — hosting royal safaris and a long line of living legends. The stature and historical importance of Sarova Stanley was aptly described in a article that appeared in The East African and Rhodesian in 1930 that said, “There is probably no other colony in the British Empire where a hotel has been more intimately associated with communal development and welfare than has The Stanley of Nairobi with the modern history and progress of Kenya. That celebrated establishment has been so long a popular rendezvous of the colonists that it has acquired an individuality entirely of its own.”
The McMillan Memorial Library building is one of the oldest and largest libraries in Nairobi. Located in the Nairobi city centre, the library is surrounded by many landmarks and important Nairobi buildings, including the Jamia Mosque.
The library houses an extensive African section, as well as rare first edition books and works of art, including portraits and sculptures (these include a sculpture by Cesare Lapini and a portrait of Andrew Carnegie).
The McMillan building has a picturesque exterior architecture, finished in Nairobi blue stone, with a front entrance marked by classic large pillars and stone lion sculptures. The thick walls offer serenity in the inside for readers to read in quietness.
Established in 1931, the building was named after US-born philanthropist, Sir William Northrup McMillan. Today the Library is operated by the Nairobi City Council and serves an average of 1,000 users per day (in conjunction with its two branches).