The Lunatic Express

They called it the Lunatic Express.

The Kenya-Uganda Railway, known as the Lunatic Express, was once, long long time ago, the livelihood of Kenya. In fact, it was even the main reason that the Britons consolidated their interests in Eastern Africa and founded a couple of colonies, Kenya amongst others. The Germans, who had occupied a piece of Africa next door and calling it ‘German East Africa’ (which later became Tanzania), found the Railway as important and attacked the Britons during the first World War to gain control over it. The German plan didn’t work out and the German troops were driven back, keeping the Railway in British hands.

The Railway was the birthplace of Kenya and occupies still a mythical place in it’s history. Even as the old Railway line has almost been completely run down by subsequent Kenyan governments. In the post-Railway Kenya which is going through its own urban post-industrial revolution, the contemporary Kenyans organize parties in between the Railway leftovers. By renting out the Railway grounds for parties, it might also be a way for the Kenyan Railway museum to get the desperately needed funds to do at least some basic maintenance on the old rolling stock, before it all falls into unrecoverable pieces.

And the mythical power seems also still to enthral the contemporary Nairobians, at least to have a nice bash now & then, between the industrial leftovers of their ancestors.

Shot during the ‘UP Live – Off the Rails Festival’ in Nairobi, Kenya.

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