Through Jade's Eyes

This blog is about the fictional character, Jade del Cameron (www.suzannearruda.com), and the historical time period in which she lives.

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Location: www.suzannearruda.com, United States

I'm the author of the Jade del Cameron historical mystery series set in 1920's Africa. Lots of action, intrigue, mystery and a dash of romance. Follow me at www.twitter.com/SuzanneArruda *The audio link (view complete profile) is an interview by Baron Ron Herron (9/17/2009, Santa Barbara {CA} News-Press Radio, KZSB, AM 1290

Monday, August 03, 2009

NAIROBI NEWS: 1920 “DANGEROUS DEATH TRAPS IN THE DARK”

NOTE: TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH will be released Sept. 1, 2009. An excerpt and information on pre-ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda


These past few blogs have investigated the problems of a growing Nairobi in 1920 during the time when Jade del Cameron was roaming its streets. These problems were those of any rapidly growing city: more traffic on the streets and more streets as the city expands. Another problem: adequate night lighting on those same streets.

Nairobi was blessed with electric lighting early on in its development, the generator flume being upriver at Ruiru. (also the site of a murder – see blogs for Febr. 23 - March 15, 3009). And by now, the old sport of riding the streets on horseback and shooting out the electric lights was over. But many of the early streets that were lit were no longer thoroughfares. Instead, they were “a little backwash of a quiet suburban street” and busy intersections were left unlit. In particular, Valley Road, “one of the main arteries of the town leading to the suburbs” was a dangerous black hole, especially where it intersected with Crawford Road at an acute angle.

The Municipal Council had a plan to solve that problem, a plan that they offered to The Electric Light Company, a plan that The Leader of British East Africa labeled as “from the Municipal Authorities point of view, is doubtless excellent, being framed pretty much upon the policy of getting something for nothing.” The reporter writing on this dilemma sarcastically stated that the proposal was made with “a profundity of wisdom and economy . . .the brilliancy. . . hardly equaled by the electrical illuminant itself.”
In short, the city wanted the Lighting Company to simply remove the lights from the quieter streets and relocate them to the busier ones “with no extra revenue” to compensate for the company’s expense of laying new wire and erecting poles. The reporter charges that “there is surely enough money left over from that municipal goose that lays the silver rupee eggs, the Conservancy Department,” to fund the neglected streets.

In the meantime, the Municipal Council also asked the Electric Light Company to “experiment with 100 to 200 candle power lights on each pole between the Corner and Nairobi House and to furnish an estimate of the cost.” Good luck getting any of those “silver rupee eggs” to pay for it, though.

Ultimately the following notice appeared in the paper: "LIGHTING AGREEMENT: It was decided that the absence of an agreement between the Municipal Council and the Electric Lighting Co. should be brought to the notice of the Council.

At least they agreed that there was no agreement. Some things, like city politics, never change.

The images and quotes were taken from The Leader of British East Africa July 3, 1920.

NEXT WEEK: A Settler murders a native worker and goes on trial.

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, all available in trade paperback.. The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey, is available in hardcover.

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