by Sydney
Political Cartoonist and Commentator


Oct 30, 2020

The Genesis of Eldoret Town

The Kenyanpost news

Eldoret is the only town in Kenya which was not founded on British influence. And while other towns developed around the Uganda Railway, Eldoret morphed from South African farmers running way from British colonialism! While the life of early Kenyan towns was lit up by the emergence of dukas from Indian Coolies who had come to construct the railway, the fifth largest town in the country emerged around the Boer farmers, their mud huts and wheat farms, but also a bar called the Rat Pit (which had no door), and the Standard Bank of South Africa which was another matope and mabati affair in 1912.

Standard Chartered, Eldoret branch now stands on the spot previously occupied by Standard Bank,  where a safe fell from an ox-cart and could not be lifted, and so, JM.

Shaw, the branch manager, decided to build the aforementioned bank around it! What is today Eldoret town was a number as colonial administrators then named places after farm numbers. Eldoret was farm number 64, representing the 64 miles from the town to the Kibigori station of the Uganda Railway. Little wonder, there is today the 64 Stadium, 64 Secondary School and 64 Resort and Sporting Club!

This naming problem saw surrounding areas later taking on the names of popular mzungus living in the area: Kabarnet after Mr Burnett, the famous missionary, Kapropita, was what the locals corrupted from Corporal Peter, while Iten was Hill Ten! The Boers left South Africa following the Second Anglo-Boer War that lasted 14 years to 1902, when the Boer republics of Transvaal and Orange Free State were annexed by the British. As Brian du Toit informs us in Boers in East Africa: Ethnicity and Identity, these Boers were in three groups with three diverse destinations; the first went to Argentina, the second to the American southwest and the third to East Africa.

“The Boers had a tradition of trekking,” writes Du Toit. “ Boer society was born on the frontiers of white settlement and the outskirts of civilisation. As members of a frontier society, they always had a hinterland, open spaces to conquer, territory to occupy,” he notes.

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