Sometimes people come into your life for a moment, a day or a lifetime. It matters not how much time they spent with you, but how they impacted your life in that time. We are trying to put into words how Madhukant Haria, or ‘Madhu’ as we knew him, affected our lives. Is this even possible we ask ourselves?
We first met Madhu around 1997/8 when the country was coming to grips with a new political dispensation of ‘Multipartyism’ and welcoming the end of dictatorship and the rejection of KANU with its divisive and tyrannical policies. The country was living in exciting times, civil society had found its voice, politicians had turned against the KANU monolith and had formed opposition parties. One could smell liberation and freedom in the air. It would still take another three or four years to achieve the final victory but one could see another Kenya on the horizon.
Zarina and I were involved in the budding civil society space and part of the movement towards realizing a new constitution. Yes, many perils and heartaches awaited the freedom movement but one thing we knew – that Kenya would never be the same again. Tens of new NGOs sprang up almost overnight as the international community encouraged the growth of the ‘civil society’ space as opposed to government-funded initiatives. It was in this atmosphere that we first met Madhu.
It all started when Zarina and I attended with curiosity a meeting of the ‘Eastern Action Club of Africa’ (EACA). Curiosity because here was a group of South Asian and a few African businessmen agitating for political and economic rights, a space that they had been loath to engage with previously but recognizing that the newly opened political space had given them wings to ‘fight for their rights’. Their agenda was based on their interests as business people agitating against government corruption and the racism by individuals like Kenneth Matiba and Martin Shikuku. How far could they go without engaging the larger Kenyan constituency especially civil society we wondered? But the question then was not what their final victories would be but the fact that they engaged! Some of the luminaries were Amin Gwaderi, the late Salim Talib, Swaran Sodi and Madhu; Andrew Franklin, Sudhir Vidyarthi, Dennis Kodhe, Mohez Karmali, Vimal Shah and others.
We spoke about integration within Kenyan society at the meeting and afterwards over a cup of tea met some members including Madhu. That was the beginning of a friendship that would last almost 20 years. Soon, within a few days, Madhu invited us to his shop ‘Haria Stamp Shop’ on Biashara Street for a chat. So, one fine day we walked into his shop. The ask was simple and to the point. EACA had been publishing a quarterly newsletter ‘Voice of EACA’ but had run into headwinds – so would we consider taking over the newsletter? I was a printer and designer and Zarina, although a physiotherapist by profession, had just written her first book and was doing writing and editing consultancies. For us the timing was perfect as we had just made our foray into publishing and were looking for ways to publish the Africana and South Asian archives we had accumulated over the years. What an opportunity!
We did not have to worry about money at all. Madhu through the EACA network mobilized funds for the design and layout process, and Sudhir Vidyarthi of Colourprint repute was very happy to print the copies. Sudhir’s fame of course goes back to his father G L Vidyarthi who published the Colonial Times and was the first Kenyan to be tried for sedition. We published five issues between August 2000 and the first quarter of 2002 before we transited to AWAAZ in the second half of 2000. So, in that sense Madhu was our ‘Patron’. In every issue of ‘Voice of EACA’ we ran a story on a Kenyan Nationalist South Asian leader and this exposure of history aroused great interest.
And so, this story with its variations has gone on for 20 years to date. Madhu read every issue and commented on it; he made sure that his friends and family read AwaaZ as well. And after his daughter Roshni married and migrated to Australia he sent copies to her there. His voice was never far from the contents and editorial.
In 2004 when Pranlal Sheth died in London Zahid was invited to London to meet up with the family and do some background work for a cover story on him. Pranlal’s family was going to take care of the accommodation but Zahid did need to raise the airfare. And so, Madhu was the natural person to reach out to. Zahid managed to raise the entire fare but even in this process there was something precious about Madhu’s attention to detail. A few days before the trip Zahid had gone to get his visa and passed by the shop to brief him on the preparations and as they chatted Madhu asked him whether he had a passport cover. What was that Zahid asked? He flashed out one of Haria’s branded plastic see through passport covers which we still use till today. And this connection carried on even after his death. When Zahid had to renew his passport to the new digital version in 2020 Madhu once again as always agreed to be the ‘witness’ but due to the pandemic, Zahid did not manage to get his passport processed. On 4 September 2021 Zahid went once again to Nyayo Hse and lo and behold there was Madhu’s ID among the application papers. The immigration of course does not know of Madhu’s sad demise but here was Madhu holding Zahid’s hand beyond death. What a memory!
When AwaaZ published an extensive article on the ‘Khanga’ his involvement was heart and soul as not only did he have a lot to say about the subject being a distributor of Khangas himself; but he created networks for us to reach out to and enrich the story. The outcome was a classic piece for which we are still contacted by researchers, intellectuals and academicians.
The next big collaborative project we were involved in was when the ‘Kenyan Asian Forum’ (KAF) was formed just prior to the promulgation of the 2010 constitution. KAF worked with The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) to roll out an 8-week nationwide community sensitization program on the proposed constitution and Madhu made special time to be on the tour as his children took charge of the family business. KAF lost Mohinder Dhillon in January 2020 and now Madhu in August 2021, it is a grievous loss.
Over the years Madhu attended nearly every one of the annual Katiba Days on 27 August which KAF organized with other civil society actors at the Mazingira Institute which is run by KAF members Davinder Lamba and Diana Lee-Smith. And when Madhu chose to leave us on 27 August 2021, he simply completed the journey he had begun so many years ago.
He contributed towards AwaaZ in small ways over the years even when the economy had hit the family business. He displayed our books and magzaines for sale even though he knew that his customers would not necessarily buy them, he supported the Samosa Festival by printing free flags, chipping in financially and attending the festivals whenever time allowed away from his busy schedule at the shop. He was there for us morally and in spirit when we despaired as funds dried up in an ever-changing funding climate in Kenya.
There was one thing that Madhu believed in fervently and that was the rule of law. He time and time again told us of his struggles against the corrupt County Government officials, the Kenya Revenue Authority and the multitude of government bureaucrats he confronted over the years. He did it in the spirit that he was not asking for special treatment but just for his rights to be respected. He did it as a member of EACA, of the United Business Association (UBA), as a member of KAF but above all as a Kenyan who believed in the country he lived in. In the same vein he never failed to enquire about our struggles in securing and developing Jeevanjee Gardens.
The one story not many people know about but in which he played a sterling role was the formation and running of the UBA. He remained a trustee till only a couple of years ago. He was passionate about the cause UBA championed of having a ‘United Business Association’ to confront the corrupt crime ridden business atmosphere; one which has permeated right through the business sector and persisted even after the new Katiba was promulgated. The major victims are the South Asian businesses who belong to an economically powerful but politically weak community. Madhu told us of the many struggles the UBA waged as an association against the county government. One notorious story in the scandal is that of the introduction of the ‘Electronic Tax Registers’ (ETRs) in the Government’s attempt to regulate and streamline the VAT system. I can still hear his oft repeated story of how the local African business sector averred that it will not comply and that the ETR was for the Muhindis only! The ETR machine I have till today is courtesy of a supplier Madhu directed me to. This story is told in more detail by Jitu Shah in this issue.
But AwaaZ and Samosa aside Madhu became a friend, a networker, a contact, a buddy you could rely on to try his best to resolve a crisis.
As anti-Covid vaccines became available we would talk to each other almost every other day on what the situation was, where vaccinations were available and the tragic stories of friends and family who had passed on. Little did we know that Madhu himself would be a victim to Covid19. Only a few weeks before he died we had just started a project of putting together stories of South Asian businessmen who had lost their livelihoods during the ‘Africanisation’ process soon after independence. And Madhu, having nearly become a victim himself save for the intervention of the late Vice President Joseph Murumbi, was very enthusiastic about compiling the stories. We were waiting for an opportunity to have a lengthy meeting with him. It was not to be!
The other story that needs to be told is that of the devoted and extended family Madhu and Pratiba have parented; and how their children, Rahul, Sarwesh and Roshni, have become family to us. Particularly touching to us is the support and caring that Madhu, and especially Rahul, have extended to our son Raahat as he builds his career.
Madhu is a role model for so many of us in more ways than one. He was a true Kenyan with a firm commitment to democracy, justice and human rights. He cared deeply about his family, his community, his colleagues, his friends and his country. He was a rare businessman who will be sorely missed. We condole with his family and wish them courage and fortitude as they reconfigure their lives.
Obituary by Jitendra N Shah (Jitu)
Life is beautiful yet unpredictable.
A beautiful Flower got plucked in the prime of its blossoming.
The flower (Madhu) that even God could not resist to recall.
How one looks at life is an individual choice. It may be made out of conviction or one’s environment or the society one lives in. Having said that, to be an acquaintance of another individual can be accidental or through an introduction or by way of a casual interaction or being related to that individual.
My first interaction with Madhukant known to friends as ‘Madhu’ or ‘Madhubhai’ was at the United Business Association. A quiet yet very vibrant person, an entrepreneur by choice, Madhu was a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).
He was one of the owners of the historical stamp shop known as ‘Haria’s Stamp Shop’ situated in Biashara Street. The business was originally started in 1958 by Madhu’s father, Prabhulal. The latter needed help running the shop and Madhu joined the business on arrival from the UK in 1980; giving the business the rejuvenating push it desperately needed.
Whilst Madhu was studying in the UK he along with a group of friends started a
community-based linguistic study class. Young children were encouraged to learn writing and reading skills in Gujarati, the language of the State of Gujarat in India, where Madhu’s grandfather originated from. These tuitions were given free, Madhu and friends used to entertain the students with tea and snacks at their own expense, besides providing transport.
Madhu was a member of the Eastern Action Club of Africa (EACA) where like- minded African and Asian members discussed mutual areas of cooperation towards building a Nation devoid of race, ethnic and class divisions. A society where democratic values would be the guiding principle of an inclusive Nation.
Madhu, a soft-spoken person, would always find time to discuss issues relating to business, social upliftment and participating in activities for the general welfare of society. He served in various committees whilst at the United Business Association (UBA).
He was the point person in Biashara Street and helped in the recruitment of members for UBA. He also initiated the decoration of Christmas trees and installation of lighting, banners and bunting along Biashara Street during the Christmas Season – it was no small task convincing businesses along the Street to participate. His rallying call was strength in unity. His last position was as a Trustee at UBA; during his tenure he was at the helm of initiating a proposal for the Association to purchase office space at The Mirage Towers along Uhuru Highway. Madhu was notably known for his input on various agendas affecting the retail and wholesale trade.
His was a recognized name at the Postal Corporation of Kenya for his invaluable input in the subject of Stamps. His one characteristic which I appreciated was that he would always encourage youths to take up various positions within committees and he would play a supportive role. As a leader in his own right he never positioned himself for elective rolls. His wealth of knowledge on various topical issues always made his conversations interesting. His acumen in investing made him a source of easy reference and his advice was unbiased.
Madhu was a family man who married Pratibha in Mombasa in 1976, they have three devoted children. He was always available for participation in social events. His internal clock must have triggered in him in the last few years – together with Pratibha they went on several holidays. The couple visited India, the USA, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Just last year Madhu spent a marvellous time with the family visiting the Masai Mara and being bold enough to attempt a balloon safari.
On my grand-son’s birth, Madhu was elated and gifted him with a silver tumbler. Whenever I used to pop up in his shop I would not leave without a gift especially for my grand-son. Such was our relationship that he was considered to be a member of my family.
About eight weeks back Madhu met a neighbour of mine and sent me, anonymously through him, a gift of Gulab Jamun, an Indian sweet dish. The neighbour asked me to guess who the gift had originated from – it took me a while but I got it right!
Since the inception of Covid we used to converse on phone very regularly. Not a day would pass without us communicating. In the last couple of weeks I found Madhu to be sort of tired, but he did not show any signs of being sick. His facial features were of a man in deep thought. It was on Wednesday 18 August 2021 that we conversed in the morning around 11.00am when he informed me that he was not well and was feeling cold with slight shivering. I said to him that it could not be malaria, and we parted with his comment that he planned to visit a doctor.
Later at about 2.30pm in the afternoon, I called him on whatsapp and was surprised to find him at home. He addressed me as ‘Jitio’ which in itself was quite unusual as this was the first time in our relationship that he had used this form of address. He informed me that he had been to the doctor and was resting, pending some results of a medical test.
Two days later, he informed me that he was diagnosed as Covid Positive and was on oxygen and would talk to me later.
On the 21st he texted me informing me that after waiting for 5 hours he was finally allocated a room at M P Shah Hospital. He also wrote that his voice had gone and was diagnosed as having bacterial pneumonia, but was basically feeling better. He was awaiting a report on his heart function. Being on oxygen he wrote he could not talk anyway.
My last texted message to him was on 23rd August as follows, ‘Madhubhai U R coming home soon. I think God wants to pass a message across to you to make time for yourself & spend on self & Pratibhaben. We miss U.’ Madhubhai’s response was ‘Ta’ – that was all he could write.
In the interim I had short chats with his son, Rahul.
On the 26th, Rahul informed me that the latest news about his Dad was not good and that he was critical in ICU with a 50/50 chance of survival. On the 27th, my friend Jayendra Malde called me at 7.30am to break the news that our dear friend Madhubhai had embarked on his celestial journey. Madhu was cremated on the same day and farewell prayers were conducted on the 29 August 2021.
Sad as it is, the lesson that I have personally learnt is that life is so fragile that every moment is precious. Live life to the fullest as tomorrow may not dawn for you. Madhu, a mortal who truly spent a fulfilling life, will be missed by many persons whose lives he touched. Had he been granted that lease of life I believe he would have spent his time with his family and grand-children. Ours is to grieve at our own pace and try to find peace with our Maker in good time. Adios my great friend and brother till we meet again!
By Roshni Shah, on behalf of the Haria Family
My dad, Madhukant Prabhulal Ramji Haria, was born on 23 July 1952 into a large extended family living in Ngara. He had a simple childhood, studied at Visa Oshwal Primary School and Duke of Gloucester High School (now Jamhuri High School). He completed his college education in the UK, qualifying as a member of the Institute of Chartered Management of Accountants (CIMA). There he met and married my mother, Pratibha, who was studying optometry. He worked for Beechams PLC for 5 years before returning to Nairobi in 1979 to take over the family business – Haria’s Stamp Shop Ltd.
Throughout his school years, he used to spend all his spare time helping his father, Prabhulal Ramji, with the postal stamp business at Haria’s Stamp Shop on Biashara Street. In 1979, with his brother Pushpendra, they changed the business model to focus on the emerging tourist market and over 40 years took the business to great heights with the help of their family members, including their wives.
One of the products they dealt with were textiles, specifically Khangas and kikoys. It was through their daily business that my Dad learnt about, and spread the history of, Khangas nationally and internationally. He shared his knowledge with researchers from around the world and introduced them to others in the field. He also worked on the first Khanga Exhibition held at the National Museum in 2000. His name is included in many studies, theses and books on East African fabrics. Customers were invariably treated to an anecdote or some history when picking out a khanga – such was his enthusiasm and know-how.
He remained a keen philatelist all his life having honed his skills from a young age, and was a standing member of the Stamp Bureau of Kenya. He was always invited by the Postmaster General of Kenya to unveil new stamp releases.
In the late 1960s, Dad and his father Prabhulal Ramji were fortunate enough to strike up a friendship with Joseph Murumbi, Kenya’s first Vice President, who used to visit the shop to buy stamps for his own collection. Murumbi would also often dine at our house and relish the meals cooked by my grandmother, Jayaben, (Dad’s mother). Later Murumbi mentored Madhukant through his years in London. It was this friendship that was to save Haria’s Stamp Shop from becoming a victim of the Africanization policy of the late 1960s and early 70s.
In 1975, Madhukant served as Chairman of the Oshwal Association of UK – Northwest Chapter; and along with his committee was responsible for starting Gujarati classes there which still run to this day, with students receiving their O levels in Gujarati.
In the 1990s Dad, along with a few like-minded individuals and activists, formed the Eastern Action Club of Africa whose motto was ‘Equity and Equality for all’. The membership was across the races and won a few battles in combating corruption and racism.
EACA published a monthly newsletter, ‘Voice of EACA’, to promote equal rights of all. The publication later morphed into the Awaaz magazine.
He was a founding member of the Kenyan Asian Forum which was founded to advance social justice, reform and nationhood along with activist participants like Zahid Rajan, Zarina Patel, Sudhir Vidyarthi, Professor Yash Pal Ghai, Mohinder Dhillon and Mohez Karmali to name a few.
He earned the title of ‘Chairman’ in Biashara Street, as he had worked tirelessly to revive business in the bazaar following the coup in 1982. He was also very active in the United Business Association (UBA) and was a trustee of the organisation until recently.
Dad was a keen, local historian, with the incredible ability to recall people by name years after meeting them or attending particular events. He was a non-academic intellectual with an open mind inviting people from all walks of life to share their views on different topics. Madhukant had many interests – whether it was reading a good book or watching a movie, talking arts or politics, somehow, he usually found a commonality with those whom he met. He was a second father to all his nieces and nephews, mentoring them through various stages of their lives.
As per his beliefs, Dad did not practice religion, yet he chose to live by the values of Jainism, always choosing to be kind, compassionate and respectful to others. He passed away on 27 August 2021 after a brief battle with Covid19 bequeathing a great legacy of a life lived with passion.
He leaves behind his wife Pratibha; and three children, Sarvesh, Roshni and Rahul and their partners, Hetal, Amar and Bhavini; and grandchild, Aanya.
By Radha Upadhyaya
I was really saddened to hear about the passing away of Madhu uncle on Friday, 27 August 2021. We had been communicating just the day prior – on Thursday, when he indicated that though he was still in hospital, he was feeling better.
Until he passed away, I had always thought of Madhu uncle as my ‘father’s friend’. My late father Jayant J Ruparel and Madhu uncle shared a passion for collecting stamps. However, when he passed away, I realised that over time he had become as much a friend to me: We had a common passion for Khangas. I would often pass his shop to pick up material for cloth to make dresses for myself or shirts for my husband and son. He was always so patient while helping me choose a pattern I liked, and always willing to share his knowledge of the history and details of the patterns and sayings in the khangas.
I recall Haria’s stamp shop was also one of the first places to start stocking souvenirs with the Kenyan flag – be it stickers or pins of small flags. Long before it become popular to wear symbols of Kenyan patriotism, Haria’s was stocking these items and for me this is one of the many ways that demonstrated that Madhu uncle was way ahead of his time.
I will also remember Madhu uncle for sharing his knowledge in a very humble way. He was one of the founders of EACA, of United Business Association and a world authority on Khangas, but he was always just very calm, unassuming and empathetic when you met him.
We pray for his soul to rest in peace.
You’ll be my Doctor
From Bucketlist of Kenya: Mr Madhukant Shah – Haria’s Stamp Shop, 17 Biashara Street, Nairobi.
Estimated date of writing: Between 1990 and 27 August 2021
In 1968, a well-known public figure walks into a nondescript shop on Biashara Street in Nairobi’s city centre. He finds the proprietor going about his daily business of selling stamps, jewellery, toys and straw baskets. Hon. Joseph Murumbi, Kenya’s second Vice President, looks at the proprietor, Mr P R Shah in the eye and without batting an eyelid told him, ‘You’ll by my doctor!’.
Mr P R Shah (Shah Senior) must have been quite confused, but as any good businessman would do, you never turn away a good business opportunity, and after years of hassling, I suspect learning medicine so as to treat such a public figure wouldn’t have been far from his mind at that very moment. Fortunately, it turned out that he was going to be a different type of doctor. Here is his story of how a stamp collector became Hon. Murumbi’s physician.
In 1939, an enterprising man, the elder brother of Shah Senior, began a business selling fabrics, toys, blankets and jewellery in the Indian Bazaar, which later became today’s Biashara Street.
One day, in the late 40’s, the jobless and broke Shah Senior asked his older brother for some pocket money for cinema and cigarettes. He was the 4th born, but the 3rd brother in his family. His brother, a successful businessman of his time, who traded in fabrics, toys, blankets and jewellery, refused. The wiser older brother told his younger brother to go find a source of income instead of being dependent on others.
The desperate Shah Senior, still looking for a shortcut, then approached his cousin who was a stamps dealer, for the same. Instead of giving him cash, his cousin gave him a business proposal. To collect and bring him stamps in exchange for the cash he needed. He therefore began collecting stamps in places such as post office dustbins. He learnt how to remove them from the envelopes, clean them up and deliver them to his cousin for cash. It wasn’t long before he realized he could run this as a business and with his cousin’s blessings, he began retailing the stamps himself after creating a market of his own.
A short while later, his older brother started selling nylon, after Japan had started producing it. He moved his business headquarters from Nairobi and focused on running his Kampala and Mombasa branches. He allowed the now enterprising Shah Senior to take over the Nairobi shop, in conjunction with the stamp business, which was run from the front right corner of the shop. This was in 1948. Soon after, Shah Senior’s two younger brothers joined him in the business. The three of them then expanded the business and began importing good imitation jewellery, toys and dealing in straw baskets. He continued running this business until 1958. It was in 1958 that the business was registered as the Haria’s Stamp Shop. His children later joined him in the business. One of the children is Mr Madhukant Shah, who still runs the business today.
Speaking to Mr Madhukant, one sees a wise man whose life has been shaped by lessons learnt from stamps. When he talks about them, one can’t help but be intrigued by this hobby which is slowly dying away. As he puts it, ‘Through stamps you learn so much’. But also through stamps, you can relax enough to live a long, relaxed, happy life. Here is Mr. Madhukant’s equally colourful story.
Mr Madhukant, bought his first set of stamps on 12 December 1964. He fondly remembers this day because he had to make a tough decision between buying sugarcane which cost 5cents (small bunch) or 10cents (bigger bunch), after saving up religiously for the set of stamps. There were 5 stamps in the set. 15, 30 and 50cents, 1Sh.30cents and 2Sh.50cents. The envelope in which they were sold was 15cents. Unfortunately, he could only afford the cheapest 3 stamps; and for this once, sugarcane lost to the stamps.
Mr Madhukant also remembers an interesting historical titbit: that there are only two days in which the post office remains open on a public holiday. That was on 12 December 1963, and on the day he bought his first stamps, 12 December 1964. An alumni of Jamhuri High School, he loved reading and would frequent a bookshop near Shan Cinema (the current Sarakasi Dome) to exchange books instead of buying them outright. He still loves reading.
In 1982, Mr Madhukant decided that since the stamps business was declining, they could add clothing and fabric to their inventory. In the meantime, he began giving talks to hobby clubs in schools to expand the stamps business market. Today, he still sells stamps though the business is not as profitable as before, with his main business being in fabric and Kenyan artifacts.
Back to the 1960s, Mr Madhukant was a young man, his dad was still running the shop and the stamp business was better than it is today. It is around this time when Mr Shah Senior and Mr Murumbi’s lives were connected by ‘stamps’. Nearly two decades earlier, in the 40’s, as Shah Senior learnt the stamps trade and ran his first business, Mr Murumbi had sold off his dad’s sizeable and valuable stamp collection, to pay for his fare to India for his studies.
Later on in life, a couple of years after his stint as Kenya’s 2nd Vice President, his health began failing him and he developed a heart condition. In 1968, his doctor recommended lots of rest and a hobby to keep him busy, and as hobbies do, force him to relax and rest his sickly heart. For some reason only known to him, Mr Murumbi remembered his dad’s stamp collecting hobby and regretted why he had sold the collection. Somehow, he figured that stamp collecting would be as good a hobby as any. Immediately he left his doctor’s office he drove directly to the Haria’s Stamp Shop where he found Shah Senior, and uttered these now immortal words: ‘You’ll be my doctor.’
Thus began a lifelong relationship between the Shahs and the Murumbis which is still strong up to today. It also began Mr Murumbi’s journey to being the world’s biggest stamp collector. A record which remains unbroken. Remember, stamp collection can be a lifesaver, seeing as Mr Murumbi lived 22 more blessed years, passing away on 22 June 1990.
Today, Haria’s Stamp shop has two branches on Biashara street. You cannot miss their bright yellow billboard, and it is one of the first shops from the Biashara Street junction with Muindi Mbingu Street. When I was in High School, I was an ardent stamp collector, and it’s that one branch which was my main source of stamps. Mr. Madhukant used to sell them to me and I still remember how much he would teach me about them, and especially advising me on what to buy depending on my budget. He is still as generous today as he was then. Mr Madhukant is definitely one of my life’s heroes.
I encourage you to pay a visit to his shop and say hi to him. While there, do purchase some stamps to keep the stamps heritage going, and definitely also pick one or two Kenyan keepsakes. You will find some very interesting pieces and I am sure you will find his prices very enticing (especially if you know the average prices around). But what you will value most, is the chat and stories he will share with you about his life and his experiences.
Here is an amazing man running a historically rich business, on the street where Nairobi’s history as East Africa’s business hub began over a century ago.