NAIROBI- CITY BORN FROM A SWAMP
In 1899 Nairobi was a mere swamp when the railway line was being constructed in Kenya. The swamp was known as “Enkare Nyrobe” meaning place of cool waters. The colonial government recognized it as a strategic place because of sufficient water supply. Over the years the small swampy area has become a home to over 2 million people.
In spite of the vast development, Nairobi has retained some its heritage that it has gained overtime. Some include:-
The African Heritage
In 1979, Kenya’s second president, his wife and Alan Donovan started The African heritage to showcase African art and crafts. Their massive collection from different parts of the continent has today made the African heritage to have over 500 artisans, with over 51 outlets worldwide. The World Bank in 1995 named this heritage as the largest in the world. It is a pioneer for raising the best souvenir with world class appeal.
The African Heritage galleries and shops can be found at the Carnivore Restaurant, The Nairobi Inter Continental Hotel, The Nairobi National Museum and Karen Gallery.
The Nairobi Railway Museum
The best place to have a full perspective of how Nairobi came to existence. From1986-1901 a railway line with an average kilometer of 931km was constructed. Contemporary reporters refer to railway as “Lunatic line”. A visit to this museum illustrates how a five and a half years project cost £5.5 million and 2,493 lives or 5 dead workers for every 2km stretch
The museum has a picture collection of Nairobi from pre-modernity upto post modernity. The Museum also has a yard with exhibits of the different steam engine locomotives used on the railway system from 1898 when the first train set off on its maiden voyage from Mombasa.
The 59 or Mountain class is one of these locomotives; it weighs 254 tones and is reputed to have been the most powerful metre-gauge locomotive ever built, capable of moving 1200 ton trains in one.
Nairobi National Museum
Started in 1910 by a group of naturalist, the museum has progressively become a tourist attraction for many who love art, botanical gardens and nature trails. Adjacent to the museum is the snake park where different species of African snakes are kept.
Kenya National Archives
A step through the Kenya National Archives entrance, pleasantly exhibits the photos of Kenya’s journey from the colonial era to the present day. It highlights key figures in Kenya’s struggle for independence, and various events and personalities who played a role in shaping this country.
You get to see some of the ancient African art, crafts, and functional items that inspired and influenced some of the world’s most celebrated artists like Matisse and Picasso. Masks, weaponry, cowbells, traditional attire, tapestry, furniture, cooking implements, and many other artifacts from the Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Mali, Mauritius, and other parts of this vast continent, are on display. In addition one is able to see the rich diversity of cultures in Kenya, from the intricate coastal Swahili craftsmanship, to the Maasai ornaments and utilities that are still in use today.