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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Story of The Man Who Started Driving Schools in Kenya

  • Driving is an essential skill and for one to be licensed as a driver, he or she must attend a driving school where they learn theoretical and practical lessons on how to operate motor vehicles.

    While there are a number of driving schools in the country today, the institutions are the brainchild of Lionel Douglas Galton Fenzi, M.A.S Northcote and other British soldiers.

    However. the other two were part of the Royal East African Automobile Association which was set up by Fenzi.

    Galton Fenzi (left) and his Co-driver Captain Gethin during their pioneer journey from Nairobi to Mombasa in January 1926.
    History Ke

    Born in Florence Italy in 1881, Fenzi came to Kenya in the early 1900s in search of better opportunities. He was, however, met by a chaotic growing motor vehicle industry in the country which he resorted to bringing to order. 

    At the time, more vehicles were being imported to Kenya after George Wilson, who shipped in the De Dion Bouton model in December 1903, paved the way for the practice in Kenya.

    Fenzi formed the East African Automobile Association in September 1919 to regulate the industry, with the automobile population reaching its thousands. 

    The main aim of the association was to safeguard the interests of motorists in the country.  Among its roles included providing information on the purchase and maintenance of motor vehicles and negotiating for suitable insurance policies for the car owners.

    Notably, the country’s road infrastructure was not as developed as it currently is. Owing to his adventurous nature, Fenzi began making in-roads in the country through the dusty paths.

    In 1926, he became the first man to complete a journey from Nairobi to Mombasa and back. With his co-driver, Captain Gethin, the two completed the 1000-kilometre journey in 15 days having to fix more than 56 punctures.

    What stood out about their journey was that they travelled the long-distance without a single petrol station along the way, created a roadway for themselves during the journey and were alert of the infamous man-eaters of Tsavo.

    In line with this, a monument was erected along Kenyatta Avenue next to Posta to commemorate the fete.

    “This Nairobi stone is erected to the eternal memory of Lionel Douglas Galton-Fenzi who pioneered several motor car routes as inscribed below,” the engraving on the monument read in part.

    Furthermore, it prompted the setting up of the first petrol stations in the country. In 1962, Automobile Association launched the AA of Kenya Driving School, the first in the country at the time.

    A collag of Galton Fenzi and his Co-driver and the monument at Kenyatta Avenue.jpg
    A collage of Galton Fenzi and his Co-driver Captain Gethin and the monument at Kenyatta Avenue.

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