SAVE THE RAILWAY – DOCUMENTING KENYA’S ABANDONED RAILWAY STATIONS

In 2012, we embarked on a one of a kind journey to document and visit tens of abandoned railway stations around Kenya. In what is still our biggest and most widespread project, we travelled around Kenya tracing the original Uganda railway line from Mombasa all the way to the lake port of Kisumu, stopping at nearly each and every station in between. To put it simply, this project was not just an endeavour it was an experience in itself. Over the course of 4 years we spoke and met hundreds of people who lived around the railway or interacted with it in the course of their lives. Although the buildings themselves, stood desolate, abandoned and run down, the spirit and memory of what they meant to millions of Kenyans inspired a strong sense of motivation to capture and curate them before they disappeared.

TIMELINE: April 2012 – September 2016

PROJECT DESCRIPTION:

Save The Railway is a project that aims to document and help preserve Kenya’s antique railway stations in the wake of their dilapidated state and the impending demolition of some. There are more than 100 railway stations spread across this country. Some were established as temporary stops during the construction of the railway and some were intended as permanent stations. The first  mainland station to be opened in the country was Changamwe Station opened on 15th December 1897, the station still stands to date. Many stations such as Changamwe although still present are in dilapidated conditions and run the risk of not standing for much longer:

  1. To digitally document the structure, location and physical state of the railway stations.
  2. To link the physicality of the station to living memory by curating intangible memories and stories on the railway  -Obtained from interviews and Social Media crowd sourcing.
  3. To archive the  data documented and share it through various forms of digital media.

 

 TECHNIQUES INVOLVED: 

  • Photography
  • 3D Reconstruction
  • Oral history interviews, field interviews
  • Social Media crowd sourcing
  • Digital Mapping and Location recording

QUESTIONS THAT WE SEEK TO ADDRESS THROUGH THIS PROJECT 

As we work through this project, here are some key questions that we aim to keep in mind:

  1. Documentation –  To what extent can we use photography as a low cost, accessible form of historical documentation when looking at physical sites and monuments?
  2. Crowd – Sourcing intangible histories  – How can we use social media to crowd source intangible histories when dealing with projects of national scope that elicit several strands of memory?
  3. Cooperation between local institutions and individuals – How can local cultural institutions support and make it easier for individuals within the private sector to participate in cultural heritage preservation?

MORE INFORMATION

Project blog

Project website 

Contact: chao@savetherailway.com

Samburu Railway Station- Kenya
by AfricanDigitalHeritage
on Sketchfab