Christine Nicholls’ Blog, 8 October 2011

In trouble with my car the other day, I remembered stories of the early Kenya roads. Nairobi was a bottomless bog of black cotton soil in the rainy season, while in the dry season the soil baked dry and became a fine powder. Everything was covered in dust. Sometimes mules had to be shot and left to sink because they could not be extracted. But when the Governor got stuck in mud in 1907 the first serious improvements to Nairobi’s roads were made.  In the countryside several settlers made the roads themselves. Barbie Nightingale said: ‘The road from the Kinangop to Eburru was originally cut by my husband in about 1919, through a solid bamboo forest. He had one Ndorobo and no theodolite. When they found they were going down to the left, they would come up again. They cut a three-foot path, staying on the ridge. To this day the road almost follows the same line.’ Mervyn Carnelly remembered the ‘splash’ at the bottom of the steep hill into the Rift.: ‘What a hill that was and what cars did it all on wooden-spoked wheels. It dropped steeply down over rocks to what became Mayer’s ranch and there you crossed the hot spring that is the source of the Kedong stream. Those going down cooled off their brakes and tyres and those going up topped up their radiators and we all picnicked and swapped news from up and down the country. The whole area was full of hard-boiled eggshells.’ Maintaining wheels with wooden spokes was tedious. They had to be bathed in linseed oil to keep the wood...
Sports for Peace in Laikipia

Sports for Peace in Laikipia

My wife and I attended the fourth edition of the Laikipia Highlands Games, which attracted over 600 athletes to Kuki Gallman’s Olari Nyiro Ranch on September 24, 2011. Following the athletes’ parade, the games commenced with a demonstration of traditional spear throwing where warriors speared a rolling hoop. The sports day, well organized by Martin Keino, included a children’s 100-metre sprint and other races – even a unique 4 X 200-metre relay – as well as six-a-side footfall, volleyball and even a cricket exhibition match between the Il Polei Maasai cricket warriors and the Rift Valley Sports Club. Kuki Gallman, who hosted the event, said she had wanted to do something positive in the community as a memorial to her son Emmanuel.  “I wanted to do something to promote peace,” she says. So in 2008 she started the games on the 35th anniversary of Emmanuel’s death.  Many groups, who commonly raid each other in the area, come to the games and have their first chance to get to know people from other communities in a peaceful neutral venue. The games ended with various teams pulling on a long rope, but instead of calling this a ‘tug-of-war’ the competition was renamed the ‘tug-of-peace.’  US Ambassador Scott Gration, speaking at the awards ceremony, said this event where individuals and teams competed on the field in sporting events was the “foundation for peace in Kenya.” A number of dignitaries flew in for the event, including the Canadian High Commissioner and the Ambassador for Cyprus. Kuki Gallman happily draped the first place medal for the 3000-metre women’s race on Agnes Napeyok, a 19-year-old Turkana...