More Stories from East Africa's past for you to enjoy

African Education in Early Colonial Kenya

Missionary teacher with African students. It was the missions who first started education for the African population during colonial times in Kenya, because education was essential for their evangelical work and the training of Africans to take up proselytising.  In...

New book about Malindi and History of the East African Coast

New book about Malindi and History of the East African Coast

Bluff is Old Africa's latest book, an autobiography that is set in Malindi on the Kenya coast from the 1940s until the 1970s. Written by Thomas Allfree, a fisheries officer and one of Malindi's 'characters,' this book evokes life in the coastal town and gives insight...

Arms Trade in East Africa

Arms Trade in East Africa In 1847 the missionary Johann Ludwig Krapf saw a caravan taking 1000 muskets inland; this was just one example of the vast number of arms supplied to the interior of Africa. When traders, Arab and other, reached Uganda it was common for them...

Epidemics in Early Nairobi

Epidemics in Early Nairobi

Now that we are suffering another epidemic, it is interesting to look at the epidemics in Nairobi 120 years ago, when the city was in its infancy. There was an outbreak of bubonic plague in 1902, in the Indian bazaar. There were 69 cases of whom 55 died. Energetic...

Europeans Settle in Molo

Europeans Settle in Molo In 1819 Sir Frederick Jackson was travelling from Naivasha to Sotik. When he emerged from the Mau forest he saw miles of rolling countryside. The first surveys of this area were made in 1903. It was an uninhabited plateau, too cold at...

Princess Elizabeth becomes Queen in Kenya

Princess Elizabeth becomes Queen in Kenya  Upon their marriage in June 1947 Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip acquired one of their more unusual wedding presents: Sagana Lodge, at Kiganjo near Nyeri, given by the people of Kenya. In 1952 they went to Kenya to stay...

The First Kenya Railway Survey

The First Kenya Railway Survey The final routes of the East African Railway Now that the new railway is again under consideration it is interesting to look at the original plans for the first Kenya-Uganda railway.  The preliminary surveys were made in 1891 and 1892...

Hunting with Hounds in Early Colonial Kenya

Hunting with Hounds in Early Colonial Kenya Early British settlers in Kenya brought with them a favourite hobby of the upper classes – hunting with hounds. A small pack of English foxhounds was imported from India by George Hammond Goldfinch, who settled in British...

Mombasa’s Roman Catholic Cathedral

Mombasa’s Roman Catholic Cathedral

In 1885 the first modern Catholics in Mombasa were encouraged by Monsignor Raoul de Courmont, Vicar Apostolic of Zanzibar, who sent from Zanzibar Father Alexandre le Roy, a Holy Ghost missionary disguised as an Arab to avoid religious rivalry, on an exploratory visit...

The Prosaic Problems of Very Early Nairobi

The Prosaic Problems of Very Early Nairobi

The early colonial governors of Kenya were much exercised by the unglamorous subject of sanitation, particularly in the swamp on which Nairobi had inadvisedly developed from the few storage shacks constructed there by the railway builders, before they tackled the long...

Trout Fishing in Kenya

Trout Fishing in Kenya

Trout Fishing in Kenya Kenya is renowned for its excellent trout fishing, but trout are not indigenous to the country.  They were introduced to Kenya rivers during the early years of the 20th century.  Lords Delamere and Colonel Grogan purchased a large consignment of...

James Wood Rogers Killed in Congo

James Wood Rogers The Prescott Journal Miner, of Prescott, Arizona, reported 21 August 1912 that Representative Norris of Nebraska had introduced a resolution requesting the American President to send to the House of Representatives all information he had about the...

Andrew Rattray and the Training of Zebras

  Andrew Rattray and the Training of Zebras Andrew Rattray Zebras are notoriously difficult to train. Any hope that they could be pack animals in Kenya, where horses died speedily, was abandoned after the early years of colonialism, but not until strenuous...

Kitale in 1930

Kitale in 1930 I am grateful to Nick Symes for showing me this letter a farming friend in Kitale wrote to his father: It paints a good picture of Kitale in 1930, the year in which the photographs below were taken.    “Kitale was as far inland and as near the borders...

Should Afrikaans have been Taught in Plateau Schools?

Should Afrikaans have been Taught in Plateau Schools? A large number of Afrikaners on the Uasin Gishu plateau in 1910 approached the Governor to establish a school for their children.  The government did establish two small schools in early 1910 but insisted on the...

Ivory Smuggling in Mombasa

Ivory Smuggling When I was a child I would climb down the Ras Serani cliffs at Mombasa at low tide to swim and forage on the revealed coral reef.  There you could find chunks of ivory obviously thrown overboard from dhows when apprehended by customs boats. The Arab...

More about Frank Hall

More about Frank Hall Last month I talked about Frank Hall, for whom Fort Hall was named. He arrived at Fort Smith, about eight miles from present-day Nairobi, in 1893, and one of his jobs was to supply the caravans of people who marched from the coast to Uganda....