TBT MV edition


When the $3 million Serena Hotel in Nairobi was opened on 16 February 1976, there came a moment when four men found themselves together: the president of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta; the leader of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims worldwide, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan; and two Kenyan businessmen, Udi Gecaga and Ngengi Muigai. According to an executive on the fringe, Kenyatta addressed the Aga Khan: ‘This is my nephew, Mr Muigai. He has just come back from America and I was wondering if it was possible to find a position for him in your newspapers.’ The Aga Khan appeared taken aback but replied politely that he was sure that would bepossible, but he would have to make enquiries. Gecaga and Muigai looked unhappy at this guarded response, but the Kenyan president nodded and the group split up.

source: ‘The Birth of a Nation’ by Gerard Loughran



Davy Kiprotich Koech in his bedroom while at Harvard University Medical School, 1978.He later became a prominent and controversial international scientist in immunology. In 1979,he co-founded the Kenya Medical Research Institute in 1979.
At the height of his professional career in science,Koech turned down a number of high profile appointments by President Daniel Arap Moi.They were close friends but Koech did not have any political aspirations.
In 2006 Koech,the director of Kemri was issued an executive order by President Mwai Kibaki to use Kemri incinerators to burn more than a tonne of cocaine which were neatly packed into 848 brick-sized packets.Koech was not impressed. Kemri was not a government bonfire of sorts but an order from the State is enough. The burning of the drugs went ahead watched by journalists, diplomats, foreign drug experts, heavily-armed paramilitary police and the six people charged with possessing the cocaine.People reached for handkerchiefs to cover their mouths.
Meanwhile,Koech had been vindicated because one of the Kemri incinerators later blew up under the strain but, by the end of the day, all the drugs had been destroyed. More than 50kg of cocaine ash was buried in a waste pit.
It was one of Africa’s biggest-ever drug hauls. Rumours in Nairobi had it that much of the cocaine, which had a street value of $88m and was believed to have been destined for Europe, had disappeared from police custody and not Kemri.
Anyway,this story is about the scientist Koech not the drugs inferno at Kemri.Take your pick.


cc: @jumabekavu

Pujo ya @mabenda4

Chief Wambugu wa Mathangani’s photo, taken by Col. Richard Meinertzhagen in 1903.

He was thought to be in his 40s at this time. Most people believe he had 16 wives but apparently they were a lot more.

He was born in Gikondi village around 1865 and probably married his first wife in the 1890s. Some accounts have it that he eventually married 42 wives of whom 7 bore no children. In total he is said to have fathered about 60 children. He used marriage to cement his relationships with the most important families of Nyeri and Kiambu.

For example, he married into the Harry Thuku family, a daughter of the family of Chief Kinyanjui Gathirimu and for Gatonye Munene’s daughter he is reputed to have paid 80 goats at a time when the bride price was only 20 goats.

Wambugu was gazette a paramount chief on 25th April 1913 and by 1916 he was controlling the largest population in the locations of present day Tetu division. It is while living next to the present day Nyeri Golf club that it is believed that this photograph was taken.

He was an early proponent for the value of education and gave out his land free of charge for the building of churches and schools. Some being – Gikondi Catholic Church – 1920, Kagumo School and Tambaya – 1930s, School of Scotland Mission at Gatitu and Riamukurue in 1948. In 1948, he leased out for 50 years, 203 acres to the Nyeri District Council to establish Wambugu Farmers Training Centre. He also donated land for the building of Kagumo Coffee Factory.

Wambugu died on 1st January of 1959 and was buried with full military honours.

Written by Binyavanga Wainaina for Kwani Magazine.


1934. The son of Chief Wambugu Mathangani of Nyeri who worked as an interpreter for the colonial government. I unfortunately don’t have his name.
In 2015 The Environmental and Land Court in Nyeri has ruled that only 35 households of the late Chief Wambugu Mathangani are entitled to the Sh146 million given as compensation by the national government.
The long-awaited ruling came after a protracted dispute pitting the heirs of the 55-acre parcel, which was owned by the late chief in the outskirts of Nyeri town now known as Wambugu Farmers Training Centre.
The Government compensated the family in 2009 after it compulsorily acquired the land belonging to the paramount chief in 1974.
However, immediately after the compensation was made, a row erupted between his many descendants on how to share out the money. Mathangani is said to have had many wives.
In the judgment delivered by Justice Lucy Waithaka on behalf of justice Antony Obwayo, the court ordered that the distribution of the money be based on households of each of his wives.
This, the judge said, will also include sisters and adopted daughters in equal shares as long as they are claimants from the household of the deceased chief.
“Sons and unmarried daughters will be given priority, those dead will have their shares taken by their children and grandchildren as long as they appear to be identified,” Justice Waithaka observed.
The court also ordered that Sh10 million be set aside to cater for the advocate’s costs and maintenance of the chief’s grave as requested by the beneficiaries.
Surprisingly, married daughters and their children were left out. Justice Waithaka said they are not eligible for the compensation under the customary law.
The court further ruled that the defendant compiles another list of interested identified persons and file the list with the commissioner of land.
“Interested persons are those who appeared before the inquiry and before this court regardless of the nature of their interest,” she observed.
The list, the judge observed, should be ready as the family awaits the outcome of the appeal they have lodged in court.
The family has appealed against the amount (Sh146 million) given as compensation, claiming the amount is far below the market price.
Kariuki Wambugu had told the court that before the Government acquired the land through the Ministry of Agriculture, it was leased to the African Council for 50 years.

Article by Nderitu Gichure for www.standardmedia.co.ke


Daniel Mathenge Ndeguda, 79, stands on November 4, 2011 at the entrance of the offices of the Mau Mau War Veterans Association in Nyeri.

Four Kenyans in July of 2011 won court approval in Britain to sue the British government over the brutality they claimed they suffered in the struggle. Britain contended it was not legally liable for the alleged abuses, saying responsibility was transferred to the Kenyan government upon independence in 1963.


Kimathi street and Kenyatta avenue junction in 1925.




Sarit Centre Nairobi 1985



Masai women at Naivasha winding wire round their legs, Kenya, 1899.