Story of First Kenyan to Buy Safari Rally Car

A file image of a vintage 1968 Peugeot 404
  • The World Rally Championship (WRC) is slated to make a grand return to Kenya after a 19 year-long absence from the illustrious event.

    This will see Kenyans flock to Naivasha in order to see the star-studded race slated for Thursday, June 24, and will run until Sunday, June 27.

    However, little is known about the first Kenyan to ever buy a safari rally car. Dating back to 1960, Danson Kiunge achieved astonishing feats by purchasing a Peugeot 404 station wagon which was valued at Ksh6,000 at the time.

    Previously, Kiunge alongside his co-driver had become the first Africans to participate in the race, which was previously known as coronation safari.

    A file image of a vintage 1968 Peugeot 404
    File

    Reports show that Kiunge went to purchase a safari rally car – which was a historical feat for an African during the colonial period. 

    “The white sales lady couldn’t believe that an African could buy a car for himself,” Kiunge stated during a past interview as high-end vehicles were among the privileges reserved for the Whites. 

    The rally driver went ahead to pay the Ksh6,000 in cash and was handed the Peugeot with a registration number KHA 41. 

    During the 1960s period, the KHA registration series had just been released and since founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta had been released from detention – the plates were nicknamed “Kenyatta Home Again.”

    The vehicle soon gained traction as many political figures bought the car series in a bid to keep up with the wave. 

    Soon after Kenya’s independence, the coronation safari race became the East African Safari. However, in 1979, Kenya Safari Limited took over the event and renamed it to Safari Rally race.

    Further, veteran politician Orie Rogo Manduli changed the narrative when she became the first Kenyan female driver to participate in the East African rally in 1974 and 1975.

    Alongside her co-driver Sylvia Omino, Manduli participated in the all-men rally race with aim of trying to change the gender narrative.

    During the race, the duo was flagged off by Mzee Kenyatta as they drove a Mitsubishi Colt Gallant.

    “I was angry that we were hosting the Safari Rally annually and the few women who were participating were all foreigners. I wanted to prove that Kenyan women, too, could participate in car racing. 

    “I do not like to be put in a box or to be stereotyped,” Manduli stated in a previous interview with the Standard.

    As the drivers continued to make history, the event continued to gain traction and gain colossal status. The event at the time was been covered live by the Voice of Kenya (VoK) currently known as Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC).

    Hussein Malik, Betika CEO,Sports CS Amb. Amina Mohammed and Patrick Njiru During the launch of Team Betika at Nyayo Stadium on June 4,2021
    Hussein Malik, Betika CEO,Sports CS Amb. Amina Mohammed and Patrick Njiru During the Launch of Team Betika at Nyayo Stadium on June 4,2021
    Twitter
  • Source: KENYAGIST.COM