Umardin Karimbux – Man who build Odeon Cinema, Nakuru

Umardin Karimbux logo

In honour of Umardin Karimbux, all businesses belonging to Asians and Europeans in Nakuru were closed on 19th March 1945,

The death of the young man was felt across the whole country. He had died two days earlier on 17th March 1945 aged only 37.

The young man had never been to school. The schools back then only catered for European kids. However, his father, Ibrahim Karimbux had taken on the task of homeschooling him.

Umardin Karimbux achievements

One of the greatest achievements of the young man was the construction of the Odeon Cinema in Nakuru. Odeon opened in 1929. The short road the joins the highway to Kenyatta Lane outside Odeon Cinema is named after him. The man is none other than Umardin Karimbux, son to Ibrahim Karimbux. He build the theatre when he was only 21 years old.


Odeon Cinema Building, Nakuru
The Odeon Cinema Building in Nakuru was first opened in 1929 by Umardin Karimbux

Odeon Cinema had the vision of serving people of all races. It was built as a revolt against the White people who only had theatres that served their own.

Umardin is also credited for growing the family business. Imagine if he hadn’t died young? At his death, his son Mohammed was 13 years old.

Odeon Cinema Hall, Nakuru

Odeon Cinema Nakuru

One day, Umardin Karimbux, who built the Odeon Cinema Hall in Nakuru, was barred from accessing the only cinema hall in town for being an Asian. Back then, the cinema hall was only open to whites.

Odeon Cinema Nakuru

Angered by the incident, the young man, son of pioneer Indian Nakuru businessman Ibrahim Karimbux decided to put up a cinema hall that would serve all races. That is how Madil Karimbux’s house was out up and opened to operations in 1929. Today, the building is popularly known as Odeon Cinema, Nakuru.

The original hall was refurbished by Umardin’s son, Mohammed Karimbux, in 1957. In the same year, Dahyabhal K. Patel, who had gotten the franchise to run Odeon Cinema in East Africa took over the building and set up Nakuru’s Odeon Cinema.

Umardin Karimbux logo
Umardin Karimbux logo

Two years later, Dahyabhal sold the franchise but retained the Nakuru hall. He renamed it Odeon Theater.

The theatre changed hands several times over the years. Unfortunately, it operated only up to the mid-2000s and closed down leaving it a shell of its previous self.

But the light blue iconic building still stands strong. The UK logo for Umardin Karimbux and the original name, Madil Karimbux, can still be seen on the walls of the building can still be seen.

In the recent past, the building was sold to a church in Nakuru.

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