After I had posted the Kenya diary excerpt yesterday (see previous post), I found I could do passable scans from one of our old albums. So here are the photos of ‘A Day At The Nairobi Races’ – two 6WordSaturday titles for one then.
Members of the Police Anti-Stock Theft Unit from Kenya’s Northern District – completing the race that never was.
The real racing begins which reminds of an even more historical account of the Nairobi races.
In 1931 Evelyn Waugh arrived in Kenya during Race Week which was by then a colonial institution. I gather it took place between Christmas and New Year when the smart-set settlers left their upcountry farms and headed for town. Every night was party night at the Muthaiga Club. Here are some excerpts from Waugh’s day out at the races from Remote People:
I found myself involved in a luncheon party. We went on together to the Races. Someone gave me a cardboard disc to wear in my button-hole; someone else, called Raymond, introduced me to a bookie and told me which horses to back. None of them won…
Someone took me to a marquee where we drank champagne. When I wanted to pay for a round the barman gave me a little piece of paper to sign and a cigar.
We went back to Muthaiga and drank champagne out of a silver cup which someone had won.
Someone said, ‘You mustn’t think Kenya is always like this.’
And some sixty years on to 1994 when these photos were taken…
The Steward’s Enclosure. The colours of the day were red and white, and the lady in the red and white hat won ‘best outfit’.
The Chief Steward
But when it comes to the old colonial residue, one key thing has obviously changed. In 1963 Kenya won independence from Britain. But here’s the catch. As colonial private interest dwindled, so came the invasion of the multi-nationals. The American corporation Del Monte was one of the first. They took over Kenya Canners and the Thika pineapple plant. Another big investor was the Anglo-African giant Lonrho, here sponsoring the races. This entity started out in 1909 as the London and Rhodesian Mining Company. During the ‘60s Lonrho bought up British firms throughout Kenya including the Standard newspaper, farms, distributors, wattle estates, and a large vehicle importer*. During the ‘90s Lonrho also owned some of the country’s most prestigious tourist hotels including The Ark, the Norfolk Hotel and the Mount Kenya Safari Club. There’s a postscript to this later.
Now back to the album:
The Kenya Air Force Band waiting for their next stint between the races
The main grandstand
And for the children – donkey cart rides, face painting and Mr. Magic
Postscript: from the Standard newspaper 15 May 2005
John Kamau reports:
Nairobi — The once politically-connected Lonrho Plc has finally called it a day in Kenya after selling its last five prime properties to Saudi-billionaire, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
In what may be one of the largest take-overs in Kenya in recent history, Kingdom Hotel Investments, owned by Alwaleed, on Wednesday took over the historic Norfolk Hotel, Mount Kenya Safari Club, Aberdare Country Club, The Ark and Mara Safari Club. Alwaleed also owns the famous London Savoy.
All of which prompts me to ask who actually does own Kenya these days?
copyright 2017 Tish Farrell
Six Word Saturday Please pop over to Debbie’s at Travel With Intent. She has posted some fabulous shots of the Forth Bridge – another example of how historical constructs can long endure, some far more useful than others.
*Charles Hornsby 2013 Kenya: A History Since Independence