Have you ever had something deep inside, that you’ve never told your lover? Not that you never wanted to tell them about it in the first place, it’s just that, it never ever came up in your conversations. Then one day, it finally comes out, unexpected. Erupting like a volcano.
So, it was on a Tuesday. I’d turned into Reina’s errands guy. She was running this business and needed more hands-on deck. Once it was over, around late afternoon, we decided to go visit the Kenya National Archives. Have you ever been?
If not, you should.
The place leaks of history. Beautiful history. Entrance fee is Kshs. 50 for Kenyan adults. It’s slightly more for foreigners. We went past the security check, straight to the receptionist; a man who had one leg perched up on a chair. We paid and got inside.
Kenya National Archives has artifacts and materials from the past East African cultures and tribes. The place we started our tour from had weaponry items as used in years dating back as far as 1700 years ago. If you’re not a history lover, you’d find this visit as interesting as watching paint dry on a wall.
But it’s funfair for us. We see clothes, pictures, drawings, items and write ups explaining the past that we so much ignore. (Us ignorant people!) How many times have you been to National Archives? Inside the place, not outside waiting for a friend to spot you in the crowd, see?
At the ground floor, Reina takes note of a write up about the Kamba culture and how they used to culturally live their lives in the past. Things to do with marriage and life before modernity spoiled it all for us. She reads through the entire thing, and explains to me parts of it she finds interesting.
We continued walking the ground floor staring and reading through the items trying to make sense of, and understand the originality of everything we saw.
This portrait in particular caught Reina’s attention more…..(A Queen Meets A Queen).
As we were heading up the stairs, just after the Wangari Maathai and Tom Mboya corners (with their history, something you should see), Reina says; we need to go to Growers Café before they close. They close at 5:30pm.
‘Cool. Let’s go through the first floor fast then we’re out.’ I said.
We skimmed through the artifacts on the wall. One particular thing that was hard to ignore was the seat, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta sat on for 17 years on different presidential and official functions as president. You’ll be tempted to sit on it, just to get a little bit taste of power, but the “don’t sit on the seat” sign will make you think otherwise.
We then walked down the stairs and left for Growers Café.
Growers Café is part of the vintage of Nairobi. It’s an old-school restaurant started many years ago, I suspect it was in the eighties. Maybe seventies.
You see, Reina has mentioned about it before. And how old-school it is. That when you’re inside there, you feel like an outlier. Away from Nairobi CBD, yet, that’s exactly where it is. On the back of Imenti House, on Moi Avenue, overlooking the ever busy Tom Mboya Street.
We ordered some black and white coffee, pancakes, sausages, a samosa and banana.
Growers Cafe was quite packed. It tells you how popular it is especially with the old folk around. You can choose to sit downstairs if you’d like. We sat at a corner next to a window with a view at the busy human traffic whizzing past outside, as we shared the meal.
And that’s when I realized that I’d actually been there before. Only that, I couldn’t recall it at first.
The memory stormed my mind all of a sudden. It was nostalgic, and a painful memory too.
I told Reina how I’d once sat in there with my Mum and Dad during my high school years. How they’d had this huge disagreement in my presence earlier on as I was going back to school that day. That evening, we sat together, them still going over their issues as I sipped on a cup of tea. Everything at that moment felt cold.
My parents were at conflict.
Its scary how I remembered all that, even the exact place we sat and everything I felt. And you’ll be shocked at how much a place can hold good or bad memories. For that reason, I will probably not head there again.
But if you’d like to experience vintage in this our Nairobi, try out Growers Café and The Kenya National Archives.
And for the ask, is there a place that holds good or bad memories for you? Mind sharing in the comment section below?
Image source: credits