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Angkor is a UNESCO protected city and the largest archaeological sites in South East Asia stretching in an area of 400 km. It is a destination which has the remains of the Khmer regime and the parks, temples and hydraulic structures mesmerize you with its sheer grandeur and splendour. Every year millions tourist cross flock to this amazing fairy tale land and enter Angkor Wat, the largest religious  [...]

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A Blend Of Cultures In Nairobi

Posted on November 17, 2009 | Fascinating CitiesNo Comment



Nairobi is truly a cosmopolitan city, with a blend of old and new, local and foreign, insight and amusement. Here are factors that pool in to make the culture and heritage of the city unique. The British too have left their legacies behind, widening the cultural ambits of the city and this is reflected in the English-named Nairobi streets.

1.People-a mixed bag of cultures

Many of the foreigners settled in Nairobi and other parts of Kenya around the mid 20th century. They were mostly labourers who were brought here by the British to work for them. The city also has communities from Somalia and Sudan settled here.  Consequently, their way of living, culture, food habits and everything else has mingled with that of Kenya and presents to the tourists a rainbow of culture, in various ways.

2.Cultural centers

The city of Nairobi has number of cultural centers that reflect the mixed bag of culture this Kenyan Capital City through various ways museum displays, exhibitions is art galleries, theatres etc. Almost all the major attractions of this city are important historical sites.

old Bank of India buildingThere are plenty of museums in the city. One of the important ones among them is the National Museum of Nairobi. With about 900 hundred stuffed birds and animals, historical exhibits that inform visitors about the Swahili culture and society and the exhibitions by local artists among other informative and amusing display, the museum deserves a day’s attention. The Railway museum is another important one with photographs and other reminders since the time when the Lunatic Express line as the first Kenyan railway line between Mombasa and Kampala was called, was laid down. The Ramoma Rahimtulla Museum of Modern Art and Karen Blixen’s House and Museum are other good museums of the city.

Retelling the history of the independence struggle, the National Archive of Nairobi located in the old Bank of India building, has fascinating collection photographs, tribal weaponry, instruments, masks and other such things.

Some of the worth visiting galleries of Nairobi are the Gallery Watatu and the Go-Down Arts Centre which has a recording studio as well. The Riuki Cultural Center gives a glimpse into a traditional Kenyan village, and life style in there through theaters and other ways of performing arts.

The Kenya National theatre stages some classic and contemporary plays. Showcasing works of Western and Kenyan playwrights is the Professional Centre.

3.Historical sites

A walk around the city will show you how well this growing metropolis is connected to its past. Among the major Kenyatta Conference Centrehistorical sites is the Kenyatta Conference Centre with a blend of traditional modern African style of architecture, built in name of Jomo Kenyatta, the first President of the Republic of Kenya.

The Uhuru Gardens mark the spot where the freedom from the British was declared at midnight December 12, 1963. There is a statue of freedom fighters as well raising a flag. The Parliament House with its clock tower built in the 1950s is another historical place, symbolizing democracy. Just beside the Parliament is the Mausoleum of President Kenyatta, the first President of the Republic of Kenya.

The American Embassy Garden marks the site of the American Embassy that was bombed in 1998 by the terrorists.

4.Places of worship

Reflecting its ethnic communities, the city has a variety of religious places and beautiful ones at that too! The Swami Narain Temple for instance is a Hindu temple on Forest Road. There are churches here as well like the All Saints Church founded in 1917, which is a gothic style Anglican Church.  A couple of mosques add dimension to the architecture of Khoja Mosquethe city. The Jamia mosque here is a mosque with Arabic Muslim architecture – twinned minarets, domes and other such features. Khoja Mosque is another landmark of the city.

5.Films

The Kenyan film industry is its nascent stages, though there are people like Njeri Karago and Judy Kibinge making a way for the same. There are a number of cinemas that screen Hollywood movies here in Nairobi.

6.Literature

There is a lot of literature on Kenya, especially on its colonial era. Some of the well-known writers representing Kenyan literature include Meja Mwangi, Karen Blixen who lived for a while in Nairobi, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o.

Some of the novels with Kenyan subjects have been made out into films and have received critical acclaim.

7.Music

All kind of Kenyan music has found space in the capital of this East African country. Benga genre of Kenyan music, which combines Jazz and the Luo form of music, developed in Nairobi. Other music genres that created a place of for themselves in Nairobi are the East and Central African music, the Soukous music which boasts of artists like the Orchestra star Mazembe.  Popular among today’s youth is the Hip-Hop form of music which have mastered by successful artists like Jua Cali, Nonini among others. Rock and alternative form of music has good following as well. Popular artists who have performed here recently include Shaggy, Sean Paul, Mr. Vegas and rappers like Coolio and Lost Boyz.  FM stations play some good deep music and the nightclubs too have good music to enjoy to.

There are orchestras, concerts and musical events all throughout the year in Nairobi, keeping music lovers happy.

Festivals and special events

With such a rich culture and a mixed bag of ethnicities around the town, the festivities and special events reach a different level in Nairobi, all through the year.

Madaraka Day on the 1st of June commemorates the grant of self-government to Kenya and is a nation wide public holiday. The Kenya fashion week brings designers from across the country to Nairobi in the very same month of June. This month is an exciting one as it is also the time for the International seven-a-side rugby tournament which is called Tusker Safari Sevens.

A ten day Kenya Music Festival held in August brings together African, expat and Western musicians for a rocking music session in Nairobi.

October has two public holidays. Moi Day on the 10th of October is a nationwide public holiday. On the 20th of October, the nation commemorates the anniversary of Jomo Kenyatta’s, the first President of the Republic of Kenya, imprisonment and this too is a nationwide public holiday.

The Jamhuri or the Independence Day is celebrated on 12th of December,  and marks the date (12 December, 1963), when Kenya was free from the British rule and also the day in 1964 when the country was established as a Republic. There are feasts, dance, carnivals and military parades to celebrate the occasion.

As per the Islamic calendar, the holidays and festivals like Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr depend on the moon and differ every year.

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