An Eccentric East African Hotelier

An Eccentric East African Hotelier   If you crossed the Kenya border into Uganda in the 1940s you came across a rather dilapidated building with a faded tin roof, half a mile from the border, at Tororo. On a board it announced itself as a bar: ‘Prop.: H.H. Aitken. Licensed to sell liquor to whom, how, and at what hour he pleases.’ You entered a dark room, with a bar displaying bottles of liquor behind it. Bottles of beer were in an icebox in the corner, and there was a price list. Customers were invited to leave money in a bowl on top of the bar. There was also an invitation to answer calls of nature behind the house.   If you desired to stay, you were presented with this price list: Tororo Hotel, Tororo, Uganda, Prop.: H.H. Aitken, P.O. Box 9, phone 8. Per day single room shgs 17.50                 double room   32.00 Dinner, bed, bath, morning tea and breakfast. Visitors who do not bath, 2 shgs extra. (There were also prices for meals and board terms for four to six days and for a week.)   After this was proclaimed: Nuisances: Children: In proportion to food and accommodation, Noise and Nuisance to Visitors and/or the Proprietor. Livestock: Dogs and other fleasome beasts and Birds are not allowed in the hotel. Servants: Cannot as a rule be catered for. Corkage is charged on Visitors’ own Wines, Spirits and Beer Golf free to hotel visitors   This strange establishment was the brainchild of Herbert Henry Aitken, a man who was a legend on both sides of the border. Who...
Sneak Preview: Horse Racing in Kenya

Sneak Preview: Horse Racing in Kenya

Old Africa has been working for over two years on a project covering over 100 years of horse racing in Kenya. We’ve just completed the rough edit of the full book and are moving into the stage for final editing and photo selection. I think we can use about 300 of the over 900 photos collected so far. Here’s a sneak preview of one race in Nanyuki that didn’t go as well as it should have. Gentleman Rider Rowland Minns wrote the piece, which will be included in the book. Rowland Minns riding Beaujolais in an Open Hurdle race in Limuru in 1969. This was NOT the horse mentioned in the story that follows. A BAD RIDE IN NANYUKI Another incident at Nanyuki was on a horse owned by another farmer, which had been ‘warned off the course’  for being uncontrollable (the horse not the farmer). This meant the horse couldn’t ride in official races organized by the Jockey Club of Kenya, but no one seemed to care if the horses ran in the gymkhana events upcountry.  I asked the farmer what it was like and all he said was that ‘it could go a bit’ but tended to throw its head around. It appeared in the paddock led by no less than two syces, who appeared to have great difficulty in controlling it. When the word came to mount, I took a flying vault into the saddle as it was far from stationary at the time and then told both syces to let go of it thinking this might help. The race was right round the course and the...