For decades, since its map mysteriously went missing at Nanyuki in 1931 (as the tale goes), the iconic Nairobi~Nanyuki Meter Gauge Railway was a key driver of Mt Kenya region’s socio~economic boom.
The signature diesel engines gracefully snaked in and out of Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Nyeri and Laikipia Counties, effectively giving life to the multibillion coffee and tea sectors, Kenya’s export captains of yesteryears.
But all this grid to a sudden halt in the late 1980s when the last engine went silent, dealing a major blow to the largely agricultural part of Kenya.
Luckily, four decades later, a ray of hope is on the horizon.
This month, June 2020, a wave of excitement engulfed the region as elated locals watched a wagon carrying ballast roar all the way from Nanyuki, Laikipia County to Maragua, Murang’a County.
To the born 80s, 90s and millennials, it was a magical moment as they watched the railway lines they grew up seeing as mere pieces of abandoned metal, get a new definition.
And to the older generation, who saw the earlier train of 70s, it was a nolstagic moment of reminiscence of the good old days, re~writing of a story and a renewed hope of a better tomorrow.
When it finally gets operational, the line which American author Charles Miller christened the ‘Lunatic Express’ in his 1971 book ‘The Lunatic Express: An Entertainment in Imperialism,’ will be the perfect embodiment of President Uhuru Kenyatta 2020 Madaraka Day address theme of ‘Re~imagining Kenya.’
The railway will no doubt be a socio~economic game-changer.
Indeed, as comforted by the teachings of our Founding Fathers, when our dreams hit rock-bottom, we should not to abandon them, but re-imagine them, instead. ‘Rock-bottom’ is actually a foundation you can build on.