15 Books you should read about Marsabit.


Marsabit region has been documented in books for a long time with some. We sought to establish books that examine Marsabit region over the years and came up with these list.

We have categorized the books in a very loose order as Early explorers, Adventure Seekers, Colonial Workers, Anthropoligists and Missionaries.

It will be a remiss if we do not mention that this list is a subjective one and is in no wat exhaustive.

1. Early Explorers
There was considerable interest in Northern Kenya and Southern Ethiopia from the period of 1880s to the early 1900s and in that short period of time, a number of notable explorers visited the area. Notable among them Count Teleki, Donaldson Smith, and books about those times was driven by the urge in Europe to explore least known and ‘hostile’ parts of Africa.

1. Through Unknown AfricanCountries

by Donaldson Smith

This is one of the oldest books that mention Marsabit. It is available for download. Click here

Adventure seekers
Whereas travel writers and adventurists can be categorised under the explorers section. The following are special because of their keen interest on Marsabit and their long term interaction with the region.

2. Where Giants Trod

Monty Brown.

3. Four years in Paradise

Martin and Osa Johnson.

4. I married Adventure Osa Johnson.

Set in the 1920s Marsabit this chronicles the story of the wife of Martin Johnson. It’s a follow up to their old book. Four years in Paradise.

5. The Elsa Trilogy

Joy Adamson.

The story of the conservationist couple Joy and George Adamson who are famed for taming lions in Isiolo district. Their experience with the lions is capture in a trilogy Born Free, Living Free, forever free with movies made about their experiences with the lions giving them worldwide fame.

Colonial workers

The second and equally important set of books written about Northern Kenya is by colonial administration and Key amongst these are Alys Reece and Mavyn Maciel. They mostly captured their experiences working in the north from the period 1920s to the end of colonialism in Kenya

6. Bwana Karani

Mavyn Maciel.

Mavyn Maciel was a goan colonial clerk and was in Marsabit for a long time. This is his memoir.

7. From Mtoto to Mzee

Mavyn Maciel.

This is a recent and second memoir by Mavyn Maciel. It chronicles his life from when he was a child through to when he is an old man.

This book can be downloaded for free here (download)

8. To My wife 50 Camels

Alys Reece.

Gerald Reece was posted as a colonial DC in Marsabit in the 1930s and he brought his wife Alys Reece in 1933. They were in Marsabit during the Second World War. Alys Reece decribes Marsabit in the 1930s with such vivid details and is generous and kind in how she treats her characters.

The diversity of Northern Kenya and its rich history has been of great interest to anthropologists who have studied the people and their cultures and changes overtime. This is perhaps the sector with more books written and continue to be written. It is a sector dominated by white male. There are lifelong experts and the occassional PhD student from a western university criss crossing the region.

10. The Gabra

Paulo Tablino

This is an anthropological study of the Gabra people by Paulo Tablino. It is quite an inciteful book about the Gabra people and historical in its scope too.

11. Identities on the move

Dr. Gunther Schlee

Even though this is an academic book. It is quite an instructional book that covers a whole range of issues in the cultures and history of the people of Northern Kenya.


12. Christianity among the nomads Vol. 1

13. Christianity amongst the nomads Vol. 2.

Paulo Tablino

These two volumes is a historical take on the entry of Christianity in Northern Kenya from the early period to the development of christinanity in the recent past. The second volume covers the history of and the state of the Catholic communities in Marsabit, Moyale and Samburu Districts of Northern Kenya.

14. Mish Kid.
David Webster

15.Shimmering Heat

David Webster

In the coming weeks we shall try to provide a small excerpt from each of the above books.

As we noted, this list is not a comprehensice one and we welcome any other suggestions in the comment box below.

We shall compile another list of books written by people from Marsabit. Please comment with a title that you know.

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