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

Sanitation in 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...

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....

Why was Fort Hall given that Name?

Why was Fort Hall given that Name? Many of you will remember Murang’a as Fort Hall, and you may have wondered at the name. When the railway reached the end of the Kapiti plains in 1899, it was half way to its final destination – Lake Victoria. The directors decided to...

New Book! For Love of Soysambu

New Book! For Love of Soysambu

For Love of Soysambu In this new book Juliet Barnes traces the history of the Delamere family in Kenya. She starts the story over 100 years ago when Lord Delamere, Hugh Cholmondeley, the Third Baron, went on a hunting expedition in Somaliland in 1891, followed by more...

Nakuru in 1930

Nakuru Township in 1930 Nakuru became a township originally because in 1900 it was a stopping place for the railway on the floor of the Rift Valley after the difficult descent into the valley. How had it fared thirty years after a station was built there just after...

Sir Charles Eliot

Sir Charles Eliot ‘His pet hobby is the study of nudibranchs or sea slugs. Never more closely did a man resemble the objects of his hobby.’ Who could this be describing? Surprisingly, it was the first Governor, or Commissioner as it was called then, of the East Africa...

From Company to Colony: the 1890s in Kenya

From Company to Colony: the 1890s in Kenya

From Company to Colony: the 1890s in Kenya   When it became clear that a commercial company could no longer control Kenya and Uganda (called British East Africa before 1920), the British government took over the administration of the area. In the mid 1890s they...

Claude Martin Vernon – An Early Doctor in Kenya

www.christinenicholls.co.ukwww.europeansineastafrica.co.uk     Born in 1866 in Leyton, Sussex, Claude Vernon aspired to be a doctor. After training in London and Cambridge he landed a job as Medical Officer of Health in Ashford, Kent, where he stayed until...

Talbot Mundy, Author of King of the Khyber Rifles

Talbot Mundy Everyone has heard of Rider-Haggard, but there was a contemporary novelist of almost as great renown who spent years of his life in Kenya – Talbot Mundy. His most famous book is King of the Khyber Rifles, and he also wrote 47 bestsellers and scores of...

New Arusha Hotel – History Mystery Contest Answers

New Arusha Hotel – History Mystery Contest Answers

In Old Africa issue 86 (December 2019-January 2020) our History Mystery Contest generated many correct responses.  We could only publish the winning answer from Morag Urquhart from Scotland. But we have sent book prizes to the 11 runners up. Here are their answers I...

A Maverick Politician – Shirley Victor Cooke

A Maverick Politician – Shirley Victor Cooke In the very early days of colonial Kenya it was rare for officials to assume that the welfare of the native population should be paramount. One such man was SV Cooke. Born at Ennistimon, County Clare, in 1888, he was the...