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Standard Newspaper: It all begun from a tiny office in Mombasa

COAST
By Benard Sanga | Dec 1st 2018 | 3 min read

It all begun here in 1902. In a humble, tiny one floor building along Mombasa’s Nkrumah Road. This is where a Parsee immigrant trader, Alibhai Mulla Jeevanjee, launched The Standard Newspaper.

It is instructive to note that the newspaper was a weekly publication headquartered in Mombasa. However, it later became a daily newspaper and moved its headquarters to Nairobi in 1910.

In Mombasa the paper was housed at the current ‘Mombasa Times’ building located along Nkrumah Road. It is one of Mombasa’s old building, built in Swahili architecture.

“Nothing much has changed with the building. Actually no major renovations have been made to it. What has changed is the white and blue colours, because of the recent legal requirement by the Mombasa County government that all structures within the CBD be painted white and blue,” explained Ms Fatma Bujra, the Managing Director of Bin Ibrahim & Sons Ltd, a Real Estate firm that manages the building.

She said that the value of the house has, however, skyrocketed despite the fact that it still remains unoccupied and not renovated. Part of the building still has old slate roofing.

“Actually the rental fee is Sh54, 000. For the last three years it has remained empty we only get inquiries,” said Ms. Bujra adding that she did not know the history of the building.

The National Museums of Kenya (NMK) Coast region assistant director for sites and monuments, Mr. Athman Hussein Athman said the building has not been listed as a national monument.

Like The Standard, East Africa’s oldest newspaper still running, the house has withstood the vagaries of life. In 1994, it was razed by some Islamic Party of Kenya (IPK) dissenters.

Scores of IPK youth attacked the Standard offices at the building claiming that an opinion piece that was carried by the newspaper had offended the Muslim community.

“At about 7pm the youth broke the office’s glass window and tossed a petrol bomb inside. All equipment were burnt,” said longest serving Standard Photojournalists Mr. Maaruf Mohamed.

It is after the attack that the Standard Newspaper, then called the East African Standard temporally relocated from the building then called ‘Mombasa Times’ after 92 years.

“It was a frightening moment because the press reported that even our Bureau Chief then, Mr. Bafu Mshamba was missing but thank God no one was injured,” said Maarufu.

The newspaper offices then moved to Pali House along Nyerere road for close to a year before it returned to its original building after it was refurbished.

“History repeats itself as The East Africa Standard returns to its original home,” is the title of the story in the newspaper, which announced return to its original office after its refurbishment.

According to several accounts, the newspaper’s founder, Jeevanjee sold the paper to two British businessmen in 1905, who changed its name to the East African Standard. As they say the rest is history.

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