Attractions in Nairobi County
53. Nairobi Archives
Another great example of the British Empire’s relic buildings in Nairobi is the imposing National Archives along Moi Avenue nearby Hilton Hotel. Its location at the edge of the CBD and Downtown Nairobi makes its experience a two fold affair. The first is accessing it, through the sea of humans that builds up around its entrance. The importance of Downtown Nairobi as a commuter interchange cannot be underplayed, yet, it is hard to imagine of any place in Kenya that is as busy. Almost all travelers to and from all corner of Kenya and city commuters with exception of a handful routes west and south of Nairobi arrive or depart at Downtown. It results in a massive and endless congregation all day long. Once inside however, visitors to the National Archives will find its experience richly rewarding. Established in 1965 as the Government Repository, this stockpiles upwards of 40,000 volumes of Kenya’s history. Its cavernous foyer, with a high arched ceiling has, on it walls, an illustrious and a timeless collection of rare art, that make for a rare heuristic walk down Kenya’s history. It also expositions an impressive display of artefacts, art and photos from divergent African cultures, and the illustrious and priceless stamp gallery accorded by Joseph Z. Murumbi.
54. Nairobi African Memorial
Nairobi African Memorial stands alongside Kenyatta Avenue, within Nairobi CBD, commemorating East African soldiers and carriers who died during the First World War. It is one of three memorials – alongside that in Mombasa and in Dar es Salaam – erected to commemorate East African soldiers and carriers who died during the First World War. Over 34,000 East African soldiers and over 600,000 dedicated porters and carriers served with British Empire forces throughout the war campaigns against Germany’s colonial forces in East Africa during the First World War. “One of the earliest actions of the First World War took place off the coast of German East Africa (GEA) on August 8th, 1914, when the British cruiser HMS Astraea bombarded a German wireless station. The territory, today mainland Tanzania, was Germany’s largest colony in Africa”. The memorial commemorates over 50,000 who died. It takes the form of three bronze figures each representing those who served during the war; a scout of the intelligence corps, a soldier of the King’s Africans Rifles and a member of the Carrier Corps. The African Memorial was unveiled on May 20, 1928, by Her Highness Princess Marie Louise in presence of British officials and tribal chiefs.
55. Jamia Mosque
“Muslims then and now have made use of local artisans and architects to create beautiful, magnificent mosques. The architecture of mosques depends on where you are and when the mosque was built, and there are many different styles” – WOW Travel. In Nairobi, Jamia Mosque located along Banda Street is one the impressive Islamic edifices build between 1902 and 1906 under the stewardship of Syed Maulana Abdullah Shah. It exemplifies the classic Arabic architectural style with extensive use of marble and inscriptions from the Quran. It has a row of shops down one side that provide rental income for its upkeep. Certainly, its arch-facets are the tapering three silver domes and twin minarets. Moreover, it contains a library and a training institute dedicated to the teaching of Islam, Arabic and contemporary studies like computing. For the Non-Muslims, a walk around the Masjid especially during the weekend when the streets are less-busy makes for a lovely tour. A trip here can be easily combined with a tour of many landmarks of Nairobi including the close at hand McMillian Memorial Library.
56. McMillan Memorial Library
Protected under Chapter 217 of the Constitution of Kenya (McMillian Memorial Library Act) – in relation to the “trust deed concerning the McMillan Memorial Library dated June 30th, 1931, and made between the then Commissioner for Local Govt. for and on behalf of the Government and Lady Lucie McMillan of the one part, and the then Colonial Secretary, the then Director of Education, the then Mayor of Nairobi, Marcuswell Maxwell, Arthur Alexander Legat and Ralph Beresford Turner of the other part” – the 1920’s buildings adjacent to Jamia Mosque was part of Lord William Northrup McMillan’s estate donated to the Government of Kenya, on behalf of the people of Kenya, to be used in perpetuation for learning. The Library was built in his memory by his wife. It contains an astonishingly plenteous cache of volumes illustrating the thought-provoking pre-independence history of Kenya – with emphasis on the British aristocracy. After decades of neglect and despair, private citizens have taken up the responsibility to restore the city’s aging landmark, and hopefully breath life back into its spaces. It’s open daily on weekdays between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm.
57. August 7th Memorial Park
Set up on the site of the August 7th, 1998, bomb site (formerly the United States Embassy in Kenya), the park eternizes the tragic and deeply-moving events of the deadliest terrorist’ attack on Kenyan soil, that is the 1998 bombings of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people. More than 5,000 were wounded. This was created to honour the lives lost, tell the stories of those who survived, and for those whose lives were forever changed by the tragedy. The peaceful gardens with a centerpiece memorial wall are the highlights of the park. Then there’s the ‘art in the park project’, a memorial house exhibiting a collection of objects from the fateful day, as well as, a heart-rendering detailed photographic gallery. Excepting Sundays, the park is open daily from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. It is located at the corner of Moi Avenue and Haile Selassie Avenue.
58. Railway Museum
Rather underwhelming when considered by itself, it is, in the context of what it represents, one of the most significant historic landmarks in Kenya. Since 1971, the Museum has given nostalgic pleasure to both train lovers and history buffs. It records, protects, and displays a telling memorabilia of the famous “Lunatic Express” that began service in 1896. It was a huge triumph for the British East Africa Company and an expensive one, costing some £5.5m, or almost £650m in today’s money. The 970 kms Kenya-Uganda Railways, connecting Mombasa and Kampala, through an unpeopled hinterland lurking more dangers than one can shake a stick at, was the most substantial and seminal projects undertaken by the British East Africa Company. It took 36,811 workers 8-years (1895-1903) to complete the line. 2,493 workers died during the construction of the railway. As a pay-off, the Kenya-Uganda Railway opened the hinterland more rapidly than ever before, leaving in its wake a snowballing number of towns; including Nairobi. It gained its legendary status as the Lunatic Express, in part, because of a pair of man-eating lions that grind its construction to a halt. It is worth mentioning that it was the policy of Great Britain to allow her merchants to establish commercial relations with the natives by opening trade relations, but not until the trade becomes profitable and private enterprise have established the value of trade did she raise her flag and claim them as British possessions and exercise governmental control. In Kenya, the British East Africa Company was chartered to spearhead the development and growth of East Africa Region.
England, as a result of her policy, had secured the most profitable parts of Africa. The only portions that yielded return on investment, made by colonies, are the regions controlled by England. Among the privileges given to them were – to establish banking and telecommunication, make and maintain roads and railroads, licence and carry on mining operations, settle, cultivate and improve the land, and develop peace and order. – Gardiner G. Hubbard