Thomson Falls: The town beloved by Boers and ex-soldiers
2 months ago, 17 Mar 21:21
The first time I slept in a tent was in Thomson Falls lodge in Nyahururu — perhaps the coldest town in Kenya. As one of the highest places in the country, standing at an elevation of 7,742 feet, it is also one of the few towns with Dutch colonial architecture and for a reason. As Laikipia and Nyandarua politicians start a cold war on who “owns” this town — and who is entitled to revenue collected here, it is important to look at the story of Thomson Falls town — as it was known in pioneer days and why for the last 50 years there is no let up on whether it should be in Nyahururu or Laikipia. Already, daggers have been drawn over the Sh600 million revenue collected annually from this town. Let us start from the beginning. CHURCH Apart from Eldoret, Thomson Falls was one of the other Kenyan town that the South African Boers, who had trekked north to escape war, founded. There was a Dutch School – the Van Riebeck School, a church and a cemetery. The school was initially known as Thomson’s Falls Afrikaans School but when it was officially inaugurated on April 6, 1952, it was named the Van Riebeck School, in honour of the landing of Jan van Riebeeck, the man who founded Cape Town some 300 years earlier. When the Boers built the school in Nyahururu, they only allowed their own children to study there and followed Transvaal Education Department’s curriculum. The church they built, Dutch Reformed Church, is today known as African Inland Church, Nyahururu, and was only reserved for them. REBRANDED But with the outbreak of Mau Mau war the school was abandoned as many farmers took their children away from the war zone. After independence, it was renamed Thomson Falls High School and is now known as Ndururumo High. Most of these colonial farmers had coalesced around Nyahururu town, which was serving those within its radius. The Boers had little regard for the British authorities — and they made sure the administrators knew as much. When the railway first reached here in 1929 from Gilgil, Parliament was told the idea was to open up a district whose potential was hampered by lack of communication and as Lord Delamere said, the only option was to either build an expensive all-weather road or a one-branch railway line. RAILWAY Lord Delamere was a Member of Parliament and had interests in Nyahururu where he had a farm. Also, his brother-in-law Galbraith Cole, a pioneer of sheep farming in the area, had become a household name in the settler community. Thus, the arrival of the railway saw hundreds of farmers take settlement around Nyahururu town and these were the British ex-soldiers who had fought in the First World War and were being repaid with land. Everyone seemed to love Nyahururu — not only because of its weather — but also because it had the historic 72-metre waterfall on the Ewaso Ng’iro river found at ...
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