From the Caravan Journals: Stepping off the plane at Nairobi and driving into the city is an initiation to Africa at ground level.  It’s a long and dusty road, clogged with vehicles from another era and lined with rustic auto parts shops.  In the open stretches, there might be a giraffe or two nibbling on some trees, or a passing group of elephants. Nairobi is not an old city.  Founded in 1899 by British occupiers, it is situated on ancient tribal territories and tensions between old and new continue to exist.  The road from domination to freedom, like the way from the airport, has been long and full of pitfalls.

For the few films that look at the world through the eyes of those who lived here long before the arrival of the Europeans, see Serengeti: Migrations. Hollywood prefers the colonial point of view. For a taste of the good life in Kenya before the revolution, there is a popular attraction outside of Nairobi. It is the Karen Blixen plantation house. Blixen was played by Meryl Streep in Out of Africa (1985). A companion piece to this film is White Mischief  (1987), which dwells on the decadent side of colonial life.

Kenya wrested independence from the British in 1963.  On the government square in Nairobi, there is a statue of Jomo Kenyatta, hero of the revolution that made him president of the country in 1964.  There is only one Hollywood movie that makes a powerful statement on this topic and, remarkably, it stars Rock Hudson.  See Something Of Value (1957) below. Views of post-revolutionary Kenya can be seen in The Constant Gardener (2005) and The Boys of Baraka (2005).

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