How Kenya was given its name

By Kiundu Waweru

Kenya was initially known as the British East Africa Protectorate, or British East Africa and it was not until 1920 that it was officially named Kenya.

Parts of history has it that the name Kenya was coined from the Kamba language pronunciation of Mt Kenya’s traditional name, Kirinyaga and Kinyaa.

The mountain, from afar, appeared black on side and white on its snow-capped glaciers and thus they named it kii nyaa (the place of the male ostrich) which is black and white as compared to the gray female.

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According to the Nairobi Railway Museum curator, Maurice Barasa, others believe the name Kenya came from Kirinyaga which means a place with white spots.

The rich Kenyan history to be found in the Nairobi Railway Museum contains memorabilia, maps and photos commemorating the first days of the construction of the railway from Mombasa to Kisumu.

The first steam engine trains are exhibited in the open air at the museum, visible from Uhuru Highway.

Rail coaches

Interesting bits of history on one of the coaches state that colonial superintendent of police, Charles Ryall was killed by a man-eating lion at Kima Station.

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Other artifacts include train seats and utensils used by Queen Elizabeth in her royal train in East Africa during 1950s.

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Kenya British East Africa Protectorate