Odeon: How Colonial Cinema Theatre Turned to Most Famous Bus Stage


Odeon Cinema is a well-recognized landmark in Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD)as it conveniently serves as a transportation hub where you can readily access public transport heading to numerous residential areas within Nairobi and its environs.

One can easily find transportation to various city routes, including destinations like Ruiru, Westlands, Kahawa West, Lavington, and even to neighbouring counties such as Kiambu. 

Situated at the intersection of Latema Road and Tom Mboya Street, this renowned bus stop is surrounded by a multitude of shops and stalls. Here, you have the opportunity to purchase a wide range of items, including accessories, clothing, and footwear, along with other essential goods. 

For those interested in shopping for second-hand clothing, Odeon’s bustling market, starting from 5 p.m. every evening, is the right place to tour. 

A night view of Odeon Cinema bus stage located at the junction of Latema road and Tom Mboya street in Nairobi Central Business District on March 29, 2020

Photo

Dennis Okari

Odeon embodies the essence of an ordinary Kenyan street, teeming with the people and a diverse array of goods. Here, you can strike excellent deals with the evening hawkers, who offer a wide variety of products. 

Odeon Cinema was first founded in 1928 by a British businessman called Oscar Deutsch, who first launched the “Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation,” a cinema hall in the United Kingdom.

The word Odeon is a Greek word meaning “a place for singing”, also relating to “Nickelodeon” which was first mentioned in 1888 and was widely used to describe small cinemas in the United States starting from 1905.

The first cinema that opened under the Odeon brand was launched in 1930, located in Perry Barr, Birmingham. It was designed by Harry Weedon using maritime-inspired Art Deco architecture.

Odeon cinema was first built in Kenya in the early 1950s. However, it struggled to stay afloat, and its initial transformation into a church hall did not pay off for its owners.

The first film screened at this cinema was the Drama/Romance film Anarkali, starring Pradeep Kumar, Bina Rai, and Mubarak Mechant. 

On 17 March 2020, Odeon closed all its theatres in most nations due to the ongoing pandemic. 

In December of that year, Odeon revealed it was losing billions per month due to the closure and that the emergency funds that had been provided were running out.

The theatre is currently used for photo and video sessions, among other recreational activities.

A section of a busy bus stage located within the Nairobi Central Business District

Photo

Ma3route





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