Bata Safari Boots and the 680 Hotel

Conflict In Context - Field Notes
Bata Safari Boots and the 680 Hotel
Lobby of the 680 Hotel, Nairobi

I took refuge from today’s downpour in the lobby of The 680 Hotel.
Seems the 680 has been around forever, but, according to Trip Advisor, it’s only been 30 years. Last July, I interviewed Dedan Kimathi‘s widow, Mukami, in the lobby restaurant for a Newsweek article I was writing about the pending Mau Mau lawsuit against the UK government.
I have several photos of Mukami with this striking Bata Safari Boot ad in the background.
You can hardly call them boots. Their flimsy suede offers almost zero support, but a pair (costs @ $25) seems to last forever.
Maybe because the more you wash them the stiffer the suede gets and so they always look new.
You can spot a ‘KC‘ (Kenya Cowboy) or a safari guide by the beige Bata Safari Boots.
My husband always wore these shoes. He rarely wore any other shoe even when traveling in Europe or the states.
Never seen them for sale anywhere but in Nairobi, the world’s safari capital. But then I never had reason to look for them anywhere else.
I had no idea that the Bata Safari Boot was just one of many design belonging to a global foot-wear empire that originated in Czech Republic in 1894.
Apparently, the company broke the Guinness World Record awhile back when it sold 14 billion pairs.
You can now buy them in purple.
Sawa grapes, but no thanks.

Mukami Kimathi watermark 2012-08-20 12.07.36-1
Mukami Kimathi, widow of Dedan Kimathi, the leader of the Land and Freedom Army during the Mau Mau-era. (photo, lobby of the 680 Hotel, July, 2012)


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