NAIROBI NEWS: 1920 “TAKE THE BUS IN NAIROBI”
The answer: An omnibus. Yes, 1920 Nairobi dabbled in mass transit to solve its problems much as we try to do today.
The city with the assistance of the Messrs. Englebrecht Brothers, started up the inter-urban bus service in July, 1920 with “two good vehicles.” This Omnibus ran between Nairobi and Nyeri, about 130 km as the bus crawled. A car left the New Stanley Hotel each Wednesday at 9 am “calling at Mr. Barnes’s Hotel, ‘Ye Olde Gables,’ Ruiru, The Blue Posts Hotel near Thika, Thika, Fort Hall, and finally at Nyeri. Intermediate stops could be made assuming they were not “unreasonably distant from the main road.” A similar conveyance left Nyeri each Monday at 9 am.
The Leader of July 17, 1920 ran a small article stating that the “new Nairobi bus service” was doing well “for a start off” and that Councillor Hamilton “was noticed jumping jauntily of(f) the tram service.” The buses, the article went on to say were “not above carrying and not beneath the dignity of all sorts and conditions of local residents,” which was as it should be “in a colony which should be democratic.” Whether the various sorts and conditions actually went beyond poorer settlers and into the Indian and Goan population and the African natives is not clear.
Whatever the case, it only cost a rupee to ride.
The images were taken from The Leader of British East Africa July 3, 1920.
NEXT WEEK: Nairobi Buses.
NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, all available in trade paperback.. The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey, is available in hardcover. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH will be released Sept. 1, 2009. An excerpt and information on pre-ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda