Photography by Kevin Tosh.
“I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there.”
– Chimamanda Adichie.
Maybe it’s because I’ve never used a train in Kenya. Maybe because most Kenyans my age that I know (which is, admittedly, a very small subsection of Kenya) have never or rarely used a train. Maybe it’s because it conjures memories of Harry Potter and Platform 3 and 1/4.
But for whatever reason, I find trains to be pretty romantic. And I don’t even mean romantic in a lovey-dovey-coupley sense of the word (but more on that later). I mean it in the same way that I think that Jacaranda trees are a love letter from Nairobi. So it could be that the word that I’m looking for is not romantic, but nostalgic: full of memories of what could have been in a different time, a different place. Because in reality, my experience of long trips on land would be better depicted not by a train but by one of those tall buses with bags (and a goat) tied around the top using sisal rope and you sitting in a tight space, a chicken squawking across from you and eating biscuits and “blood fruits” (I later discovered that the name for these was “tree tomatoes”).
So maybe the railway museum is so romantic because I haven’t really experienced what it’s like to sit in a train for a whole day or night training (riding?) across my country. And maybe I was wrong, maybe it is romantic in a lovey-dovey-coupley sense of the word. Because now that I think of it, it’s romantic in the way that you would fall in love with a person just because they’re a fantasy, an idea.
Anyway, late night ramblings aside, we took these pictures at the Railway Museum in Nairobi, which, as I learnt, was established in 1971. This is important because I haven’t heard of it until about three or four years ago. I recommend it highly if you’re in the city.