Nairobi: History

The history of Nairobi dates back to 1899 when the British turned the uninhabited swamp into a supply depot for the Uganda Railways. Prior to this Nairobi was a marshy waterhole for the Maasai tribe. After the negotiation of a treaty between the Maasai spiritual head and the British, they were allowed to lay down the Mombassa- Uganda railway line right through the heart of the Maasai grazing lands, leading ultimately to its dramatic growth into a city, with a great deal of wealth flowing in.

Nairobi was named after a water hole known in Maasai as Ewaso Nyirobi, meaning "cool waters" which was rebuilt in the early 1900s. The city’s expansion continued under a strong British hand with a number of Britishers now settling in the city, thus leading to a great deal of discontent among the Maasai tribe, seeing their lands slipping away from them. The Britishers moved south to more fertile highlands and started mixed agricultural farms, further alienating and angering the local Maasai and Kikuyu tribes. After years of unrest and pressure exerted from the local people, Kenya was finally granted independence in 1963, with Nairobi as the capital of the new republic.