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Around Nairobi

photos from the highlands around Nairobi, Kenya (Banana, Kikuyuland, Karen, Ruiru, Langata and the railway) (1995-98)

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© Photos on this page by Jacob Crawfurd. All rights reserved.
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Nairobi highlands

Sweet Home Banana

Banana Village is located in the highlands north of Nairobi. The distance from the capitol is about 60 minutes local 'Matatu-time' -on a good day that is. As the poetic name indicates, we are dealing with farmland and lots of bananas. if there is a center of Banana it doesn't look of much. Like in most Kenyan villages the shops are mainly shanties overpainted with adverts for Sportsman cigarettes, Tusker beer or ENO. With the highlands around Nairobi and the Rift Valley it was love at first sight. Probably because of the green mountains and the quiet village life in climate much like a Danish summer.

Slow train to dawn

The Mombasa­Nairobi train is a nice and cheap alternative to flying. But it is also a good, relaxing experience and you are actually taking a ride on Kenyan history. The railway from the Kenyan coast to Lake Victoria and Uganda was constructed in the late 1800's by the British. The Railway changed the country as it went ahead. Maybe most important it marked the beginning of Nairobi.

The old train runs in both directions at 7pm every day. 1st class is recommended and actually pretty comfortable. The fare includes a compartment for 2 persons, dinner and breakfast. The food can be eaten, but the view is more enjoyable. Most of the journey is at night and you arrive in Nairobi around 9am (if there is no delay).

Approximately 32,000 indian workers were building this amazing railway, for the British to get a line into Uganda and central Africa before the Germans got there. When the railway had reached almost halfway, Nairobi was founded as a tent camp. In the beginning of this century Nairobi started to grow.

In Langata just out of Nairobi, there is a nature trail and the giraffe center. The nature trail is an example of what Nairobi looked like only about a hundred years ago. And of course the Nairobi area was also the home of Danish writer Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen) whose life was made into the Hollywood epic: Out Of Africa. Karen Blixen started schools for the local Kikuyu people and is still remembered today.

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