Kiburi House

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Meria Mata

Elder Statesman
History lessons cont.
This tattered, nondescript building on Kìrînyaga Road in downtown Nairobi betrays little if any significance to any passerby.

Yet this is the first building in Nairobi's CBD that was owned by an indigenous Kenyan.

But there was more to this building.

Acquired by a little known Richard Macharia in 1950, Kiburi House was cause for much consternation for the colonial authorities.

In 1950, Macharia gifted Kenya African Union (KAU) a much needed room to use as their office. Before long, the Transport and Allied Workers Union, which was at the time the most powerful labour movement, also moved into the building.

Kiburi House had literally overnight become the centre of African politics and trade unionism.

In those days, Kiburi House hosted many visits from leading African politicians and trade unionists, some of them from out of the country.

So much so that a lady trade unionist rented space within the building and started an eatery, serving tea, traditional meals including uji and, yes, nyama choma.

Kiburi House also emerged as the publishing house of several vernacular and Swahili publications such as Wîyathi, Afrika Mpya and Inooro ria Gîkûyû, besides acting as the founding offices of the Kenya Federation of Labour.

Interestingly, representatives from western media, who all along shunned KAU, displayed renewed interest in the affairs of the political outfit by flocking to Kiburi House for interviews and news.


Village Chief
Nice. The white people thought they would live in Kenya for a long time. The postwar economic problems in Britain and a lot of agitation from within Kenya and other African countries ruined their plans.
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