A little more than half-a-century ago, there was no town of Nairobi. Lion and rhino roamed freely where modern streets and buildings now provide a centre for the commerce and administration of Eastern Africa. A great city has arisen where once the explorers, the missionaries and administrators pitched their lonely camps, and along the route they marched now speed the shining cars of a new age.
The plain on which Nairobi now stands was part of the “no-man’s-land” to high adventure; the unconsidered wilderness that stood between the Queen’s peace and Uganda, the country to which they carried the Flag and the Faith. To them, Nairobi was unnamed, the swamp at the edge of the Kikuyu uplands, the last camp before the tiny outpost known as Fort Smith in Kikuyu which offered the first civilised comfort after weeks on safari. The wild plain inhabited only by herds of game and myriad birds, where the Nairobi River dispersed itself into a green swamp was a numbered camp, so many days march from the Coast.
There were no inhabitants except the nomadic Masai who, from time to time, built their manyattas on the higher ground. They knew it as ‘Enkare Naih’rrobai’, “the place of the cold water” and sometimes their young warriors blooded their spears on lion at the edge of the swamp and achieved manhood.
Then came the settlers who pitched their tents and started to build a city…