Both The East African Standard and The Leader had excellent coverage of world events. These become excellent history lessons as regards the background of the era. For instance, some of the people Jade encounters might debate the coal strikes in Wales or the riots in London. They may talk about the impending arrest of Mr. Ghandi in India or the Prince of Wales world tour. But while the local people might discuss these issues, it is not here that we usually hear their voices. That comes out most clearly in the classified ads, local social reviews, and the letters to the editor.
For example, heading some of the local issues was the sad state of the Nairobi fire department. Before 1920, it seemed to consist of a cart with a hand pump, hose, and several native Africans employed to operate it. One visitor wrote that he found it particularly amusing to see four African men in their striped “pyjamas” and fireman hats, rushing along with the cart in the middle of the night. Evidently, the city commissioners did not find it so amusing as they called for the formation of a volunteer fire department.
Now the newly formed volunteer fire department had several English volunteers, a fire marshal with a dandy uniform (if the poems mocking his strutting about to impress the ladies were any indication), and a damaged hose. This prompted an anonymous writer to compose a set of tongue in cheek rules for the city. Citizens had to restrict fires to the first floor since that’s as far as anyone could toss buckets of water. Fires had to be constrained to within 50 feet of a hydrant. Ladies were welcome to be rescued from upper floors along with suggestions for where to purchase negligees on sale for the eventual rescue. And please; no fires during race week or football (soccer) tourneys.
Next week: More INSIGHTS FROM NAIROBI NEWSPAPERS
Labels: East Africa Standard, Nairobi, The Leader