- East Africa’s oldest newspaper celebrating 100 years since it was incorporated
- Company directors, staff and partners take train ride to the Coast where it all began in 1902
The train roared its way across beautiful sceneries, snaking its way through Athi River to Voi.
Its smooth sail elicited memories of the journey Kenya has travelled and how East Africa’s oldest newspaper captured the moments.
Sad and happy memories took refuge in the minds of Standard Group staff and partners aboard the Voi-bound train that left the Syokimau station at 8.20am.
The travellers fumbled for words to describe the symbolic significance of the four-hour train journey into the coastal region, where the company had its first headquarters before it blossomed and shifted to Nairobi City.
With interludes of beverages and snacks, the Madarka Express that stuck to its timing made stop overs at Athi River, Emali, Kibwezi, Mtito Andei and Voi as Standard Group directors, staff and partners enjoyed the ride in the morning’s cloudy but warm conditions.
One of the coaches had been converted into a heritage museum, detailing the construction of the railway. There were also pictures of the first Sarova Stanley Hotel.
The magnificent sceneries of Tsavo National park with beautiful rolling hills, roaming elephants and plains dotted with shrubs welcomed the party.
Song and dance greeted the team as it landed at Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge for the centenary celebrations.
Peter Kimani, a New York Times notable Kenyan novelist who once worked for The Standard as a feature writer and later as head of news and columnist, could not hide his joy.
The experience intertwined with his latest novel The Dance of the Jakaranda in which the train features as a motif through which he traces the history of Kenya through fiction.
“I feel that I am reconnecting with my imagination. The last time I used a train in Kenya was in 1985. While writing my novel, I avoided it because I did not want to disturb my original imagination which was the basis of my writing,” said Dr Kimani.
Kimani Ngugi, the company’s longest serving driver, was all smiles as he reconnected with the past. “I remember the days when I was a young employee, and I really appreciate it,” said Ngugi, who has been with Standard Group since 1983.
On board also was 67-year-old Walter Odum, a Kisumu-based newspaper vendor who has been in the business for 50 years. Seated next to the window, he giggled his heart out as he weaved narratives of the days when The Standard was selling at 40 cents.
“The journey signifies what we hope is good partnership with other stakeholders. We celebrate who we are, where we have come from and with those who have gone through a similar journey,” Standard Group Chief Executive Officer Orlando Lyomu said.
The Standard: One hundred years of history
Acting Kenya Railways Managing Director Philip Mainga said the trip also symbolised Standard Group’s corporate journey.
“It is a journey of how The Standard has adopted many changes while promoting socio-economic and political development. The railway industry has also gone through similar dynamics,” he said.
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