Nakuru town is now Nakuru City.
Nakuru which becomes the forth city after Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu was awarded the charter on Wednesday, 1st December 2021.
The charter was awarded by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta at a ceremony held at the newly beautified Nyayo Gardens in Nakuru CBD.
The ceremony was attended by about 2000 residents and several invited guests including the Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka.
However, out of the 11 Nakuru elected leaders MPs, only two were in attendance. The Senator and the Women Rep also gave the event a wide berth raising suspicion that the Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui intended to take the sole credit for the city status.
At the charter award ceremony, the new Nakuru City logo was unveiled. Unfortunately, it was later to emerge that the logo designer had been short-changed and his design had been used without his prior knowledge and the promised award money had not been given.
“Apparently, Nakuru is receiving its City status. Back in June they released a flyer requesting creatives to participate in the logo design competition. They have never announced the winner nor awarded the winner. The above logo is my creation, that i presented as they had instructed. They have manipulated the logo concept and used it as the official city logo without my consent, I have not received any official communication from the county or any recognition whatsoever. This is wrong, sad and very unfair to the creatives and the industry at large,” wrote Rough Githuka the graphics designer who allegedly did the winning design.
Benefits of Nakuru City
In his speech to during the award ceremony, President Uhuru promised Nakuru residents that they should expect positive changes with the new status.
“A city comes with a lot of benefits,” said President Uhuru.
“It becomes attractive to do business and attracts investors who in turn create jobs for the youths,” added the President on the benefits of Nakuru being granted City status.
Nakuru Governor, Lee Kinyanjui, did not however talk of any particular benefits that residents will enjoy from the new status. His speech mostly focused on the history of Nakuru, Lake Nakuru National park and the projects being undertaken by the National Government.
During his visit in Nakuru, the President also launched the newly constructed Nakuru Disaster Unit which has been constructed by the World Bank. He also “opened” the newly opened matatu termini which is however yet to be occupied by matatus.
Koigi wa Wamwere was born on 18 December 1949 at Rugongo forest in Dundori. His father, Wamwere Kuria and his mother, Wangu Wamwere, used to work in the forest. While part of the forest had indigenous, the other half had been planted with exotic trees by the settlers.
The colonialists used some of the black people to clear the indigenous forest without pay. Instead, they were allowed to grow food as they took care of the exotic trees planted by the whites. Similar to the current day. The colonialists had built a primary school for the children of the forest workers which Koigi attended.
“The school was for the interests of the colonialists,” says Koigi who also reveals that children were required to leave after attaining the age of eighteen unless employed to work in the forest.
Even as he grew up as a young boy, Koigi knew there was a struggle going on. Now and then, Maumau warriors would come to the homes in the forest to collect money and food.
“But I always knew that the struggle would end once the black people overcame the whites and took over power,” reveals Koigi who reveals he was disappointed once Kenya became independent.
“I thought Kenya would become like heaven once blacks came into power. Independence Day was the happiest day of my life. Unfortunately, disappointment followed soon after. We got self-rule without democracy” says a sad Koigi.
Growing up in the forest, Koigi Wamwere’s greatest desire was to join Nakuru High School (then called Francis Scott) for his secondary education. However, he ended up joining a seminary in Eldoret for his secondary education. He had decided to become a Catholic priest.
Koigi was first baptized as Johnson. However, when he joined Mother of Apostles Seminary, he was forced to change his name to Michael. Apparently, Johnson was not Catholic enough and he was almost not admitted.
Koigi Wamwere as a young adult
It was a priest at the seminary who pushed him into leadership, reveals Koigi.
“The rector, a Father Devoir, forced me to be the dining hall captain while in form two. I refused but he asked to pack and leave if I wasn’t willing to take up the role,” says Koigi.
“In the initial days, I had trouble running the hall and had to wash the dishes,” adds the former legislator.
After seminary, he had already decided not to become a priest. Instead, he made up his mind to make a career in politics.
“I’ve always seen myself as a soldier. I fight for what is good for everybody,” he says.
After form four, Koigi joined Nyeri High School for his A-Level.
“The headmaster at Nyeri High School, Mr Gaiti, was a very difficult man. He would take things belonging to students for his own use. Being who I am, I could not take it lying down and unlike the other students, I decided to speak out,” says Koigi who adds that his mouth was to get him into trouble many more times in the future.
While in Nyeri High, he was elected the dining hall captain. Unlike the previous school where the headmaster had forced him on the post, the headteacher at Nyeri refused to let Koigi take up the position. He was elected a prefect without a portfolio. This left him with a lot of free time and he enrolled for the form six exam while still in form five.
“I knew I wouldn’t last long at Nyeri high school so I decided to make the most of my time. The relationship with the headteacher was so bad he would even tear my exam papers at times.”
Koigi dropped out of school when the situation worsened. He took up a teaching post at Kairi Secondary School in Kiambu.
As a teacher, he continued with his studies. He had already registered for the Form six exam and passed well. He was accepted at Dar el Salaam University. However, he got a scholarship to Cornell University in New York, USA. He joined Cornell in 1970.
At Cornell, he dropped his Christian names, Michael Clement, after being challenged by an American girl on his second day. The white girl had considered the names as nicknames greatly embarrassing Koigi.
It was at Cornell that his desire to fight injustices came to the very fore. He met the likes of Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Maina Kinyatti and Muthumi Ngatho. He dropped out and returned to Kenya to correct the wrongs he felt the government was doing. He says he came back to fight for the second freedom, because, in his words, “the struggle for democracy was aborted.” That was in 1973.
Koigi gets into politics proper
Koigi had what could be described as utopian dreams. He had seen the developments the US had made over the years and he believed Kenya too had the potential.
“If the US could beat Britain and develop that much, Kenya too could do it,” he thought.
It was a shock for family and friends when he returned without a degree ostensibly “to find for freedom.”
Back home, he and a few friends had formed a study group where they would discuss current affairs. Among them was Dr Sally Kosgey who was a teacher at Nakuru High school. It was also during this time that he met MP J.M Kariuki who became his mentor. He says the only difference he and JM had was that while he believed in Marxism, JM believed in Social Democracy.
Koigi had taken up a job as a tutor at Jogoo Commercial College. He was teaching accounts and typing. At the same time had become a freelance writer and used to write for the Sunday Post which had been started by Salim Lone in 1971. The paper did not go well with the politics of the day and Salim Lone was forced to close. To date, Koigi believes former Minister Njoroge Mungai was involved in putting the publication out of circulation.
“I used to write about the current affairs and especially the everyday issues affecting people. I wrote about work conditions, squatters and such. But every time I published an article, the police would come for me,” he reveals.
“The police would even come to the house I used to share with a friend. They would come into the house and stay overnight saying they had been asked to do so. They intimidated and harassed me a lot as a writer until 1973 when the Sunday Post was taken down.
However, Koigi would not be silenced. He continued to speak out and in 1974 he decided to vie for Subukia Constituency MP against Kihika Kimani. For his campaigns, a friend had given him a small car, an Anglia Beetle. He lost the election to Kihika by over 800 votes.
In March 1975, his friend and mentor J. M. Kariuki was assassinated.
“The killers of JM also wanted to do away with Mark Mwithaga, but they were afraid that I would take over as MP so they spared me,” he reveals.
In August 1975, Koigi was detained by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. He was in detention for three and half years until Daniel Moi ascended to power in 1978. While in detention, he met and interacted with the likes of Vujika, Seroney, Mathaga, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Martin Shikuku, Achieng’ Oneko and Fred Kubai. Being with his fellow detainees was the only reason why he left detention alive. Ochieng’ Oneko taught him how to survive in detention.
Koigi Wamwere in Parliament
He was first elected MP for Nakuru North in 1979 beating Kihika Kimani. Shortly after while at Kariuki G.G’s home, President Moi offered him a ministerial post provided he agreed to support the government. He however asked to stay on the backbench for a year “to be able to ask questions for the people.”
“Before the year was over, I had fallen out with Moi. Having been released from detention by Moi, and considering how Moi was popular then, I used to see him as a Joshua sent to save the people. Unfortunately, this impression died soon after as Moi broke one promise after the other,” says Koigi. That is how he never became Minister.
“Moi would say one thing but mean the other,” he reveals.
Before his term was cut short prematurely, by the attempted coup which saw him back in detention, Koigi had sponsored a motion on land reforms. The motion unfortunately was killed and Koigi blames Nyayo for this.
“The president called me for a breakfast meeting. I was warned not to discuss land issues and before I left, I was given a piece of land near Kabarak. I was supposed to pay for the land in instalments. However, the land was taken back “because I talked too much” according to the District Commissioner, B. K. M. Ogol. This was just before the August 1982 coup.
In March 1982, Moi had made Kenya a one-party state through a bill of parliament. Those who had voted against the bill would be warned of detention. The Subukia MP decided to fight for the right to oppose but the speaker, Fred Mati, denied him the chance to speak. It was during this part that he became part of the “Seven Bearded Sister.”
The president was to call Koigi for another Kamukunji later. Also in attendance were Charles Njonjo, Jeremiah Kiereni and Simeon Nyachae. He reveals that he was meant to oppose Vice President Kibaki in government. Koigi was offered another piece of land this time at Kiambogo Settlement Scheme. He paid for it until the year 2018.
Koigi back in detention and exile
Koigi lost his seat when he was arrested on suspicions that he was part of the 1982 coup and sent to detention on 5th August 1982. He was detained in Manyani in Mombasa for two and half years up to 1984. In the ensuing by-election, Francis Kimosop was elected MP.
“Kimosop was close to Moi. The president had helped him become councillor and chairman of Sirikwa ward before he came to vie for MP,” says Koigi. Kimosop was later to commit suicide in 1986.
In 1986, Koigi went into exile. He first went to Uganda and with the help of President Museveni, he went to Norway where he continued his struggle.
In 1989, Koigi returned to the country. He was however arrested and charged with treason. He was remanded for two years.
In June 1992, he was again arrested and charged with robbery with violence. In 1994, he was sentenced to four years to be released in 1997. The same year, he vied for the Presidency on a Chama cha Mwananchi (CCM) ticket. He got 60,000 votes. Although he knew he wouldn’t win, he wanted to enjoy the freedom of vying against President Moi. The CCM party was later sold to the first governor for Bomet, Isaac Ruto, who renamed it Chama Cha Mashinani.
After the elections, he returned to Norway where his family was based to intending to leave politics. Later, he returned to the US where he joined Columbia University as a visiting Professor.
Koigi wa Wamwere was elected for his second term representing Subukia in 2003 on a NARC party ticket. As a member of parliament, President Mwai Kibaki also appointed him to serve as an assistant minister in the ministry of Broadcasting. During this time, he started Sauti ya Mwananchi radio which broadcasts in Kiswahili.
In 2017, he once again tried his hand in politics when he vied as Nakuru County senator. He lost to Susan Kihika.
Koigi the author (Books written by Koigi Wamwere)
Koigi is an accomplished author who has written eight books and numerous newspaper articles. His first novel was ‘A Woman Reborn.”
While at Columbia University as a travelling lecturer, Koigi wrote two books; “I refuse to Die” and “Towards Genocide in Kenya.”
” To expose the pandemic of systematic racism with roots in the white world, I wrote “Tears of the Heart: A Portrait of Racism in Norway and Europe” that should today be read worldwide to understand the racism that anti-racism protesters all over the world are fighting against,” says Koigi about the book.
Below is a list of books written by Koigi and their years of publication;
A Woman Reborn, Speak Books – 1980
Conscience on Trial: Why I Was Detained: Notes of a Political Prisoner in Kenya, Africa World Press – 1988
People’s Representative and the Tyrants – 1992
Dream of Freedom – 1997
Tears of the Heart: A Portrait of Racism in Norway and Europe- 2000
I Refuse to Die: My Journey for Freedom- 2003
Negative Ethnicity: From Bias to Genocide, Seven Stories Press – 2003
Towards Genocide in Kenya: The Curse of Negative Ethnicity – 2008
Koigi spends most of his time at his radio station in Heshima on the way to Bahati. In May 2019, the County Government of Nakuru honoured him by naming a road after him.
Dundori Centre is a small town 25 KMs from Nakuru Town. It is also known as Ndunduri or Gwa Kiongo by locals. It is a famous centre that lies at the crossroads of three roads. The road from Nakuru, from Nyahururu and from Ol’kalou.
The centre is famous for extra-large chapatis and mandazis. Many people who have not visited this place consider it a backward place but the impression is trashed the moment one visits.
The people who live here are mostly farmers. The area produces in high quantities milk, potatoes and the people are known as hardworking.
Photos of farm produce from Dundori
The area is very productive in agricultural produce
Arrow roots from Ndunduri’s productive lands
Cabbages for sale at a roadside market
Below are some photos of the famous trading centre. The trading centre is in Dundori Ward, Bahati Sub-County in Nakuru County.
The trading centre is served by good roads from the three Counties of Nakuru, Nyandarua and Laikipia. Due to the productive lands, the area is a source of plenty of foodstuffs consumed in Nakuru Town.
Almost all the essential services will be found here. There are hospitals, Primary and secondary schools and also a polytechnic.
The weather is cold compared to the rest of the Bahati Sub-County due to its vicinity to Dundori Forest. In colonial times, it was one of the preferred settlements for the colonialists and it was part of the White Highlands.
One of the famous settlers was Hector Rowcliffe Munro who had settled here in 1936. He was a pyrethrum farmer and had built a two-storey house using Italian prisoners-of-war.
In December 2003, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources issued a directive to suspend all forest-related activities within the country. This came as a huge blow to former forest workers in Dundori Forest who were forced to move their cattle from the forest and settle in Gwakiongo Centre as squatters. The squatters had lived in the forest since 1974.
Nakuru Town is one of the urban centres in Kenya that has jacaranda trees beautifying the streets. The jacaranda trees have become part of the townscape and the residents have become very protective of the trees. In 2007, there was a row between the Nakuru Municipal Council and the China Road and Bridge Company when they cut down 2000 jacaranda trees. This was during the expansion of the road entering Nakuru from Lanet which was being built into a dual carriageway to ease congestion.
Recently, residents were up in arms when the owners of Golden Mall in Industrial Area Nakuru tried to bring down several jacaranda trees to make an entrance into the mall. But when were these jacarandas planted and who planted them?
While the jacarandas along Nakuru’s Section 58 towards Lanet were planted in the 1970s by the council, the trees in Milimani and Statehouse had been there since the colonial times. Several decades later, the trees give Nakuru a unique identity.
The trees along the highway were an idea given by President Jomo Kenyatta while he passed through Nakuru at one point. The residents and the council enthusiastically took on the task led by among others former Nakuru Mayor Dr. Isaack Kirubi. Among the trees felled during the road works was a commemorative tree planted by Mama Ngina Kenyatta.
Frank Walter James (Jacaranda Jim)
Had it not been for this gentleman, Frank Walter Jameson, the beautiful jacaranda trees we see in Nakuru and other colonial time towns in Kenya would not exist.
Born in Durban, SA, in 1873, his fascination and love for the jacaranda tree was so high that he was nicknamed “Jacaranda Jim.”
Jacaranda Jim was appointed Nairobi’s Town Planning Consultant in 1926. With his great weakness for planting jacaranda trees, he would plant the purple tree wherever no other idea came to mind. As one author has put it, “jacarandas are an exotic blessing that was left behind by the British at the end of their colonial rule.”
After Nairobi, the idea of using Jacaranda for urban beatification spread to Nakuru, Nanyuki, Nyeri, Kiambu, Limuru among other old urban centres in Kenya.
However, it was Pretoria South Africa where he oversaw the planting of the largest number of Jacaranda trees estimated at 70,000. The sight when the trees blossom in summer draws in thousands of tourists who visit to behold the “Jacaranda City.” In Pretoria, there even exists the rarely found white-flowered jacarandas.
Next time you’re walking around Nakuru while the Jacarandas are in bloom, say a thank you prayer to Jacaranda Jim who passed on in 1956.
Nzuki Anthony Wachira is the Member of County Assembly (MCA) elect for London Ward in Nakuru West.
Nzuki trounced Francis Njoroge of Jubilee after he garnered 1,707 votes against Njoroge’s 1,385.
Born 34 years ago to Mr Charles Wachira, Nzuki is married to the love of his life and they have been blessed with three daughters.
Nzuki attended Prisons Nursery school before proceeding to Milimani Primary and then to Crater Secondary.
He attended Egerton University and worked at Nakuru PGH briefly before joining Bidco Kenya.
Nzuki joined politics in 2014 while still working at Bidco.
“I was always touched by the many jobless youths who used to hang around “jobless corner” in London. Every day I would meet people asking for alms. The salary I was earning was hardly enough to give them and that’s how I decided to join politics to empower my community,” said Nzuki in an earlier interview with this publication.
In 2017, Nzuki Wachira decided to vie for the MCA seat.
To him, this would have been a great platform to empower the people and make a difference in their lives.
He however lost in his bid at the nominations.
A strong believer in the will of the people being supreme, Nzuki fully supported the late Sammy who had won in the Jubilee nominations. He was part of the London Ward team popularly known as “Team Change.”
Nzuki strongly believes in incorporating people in leadership. His years in the corporate world put him a step of his competitors as a team worker, a person who respects others opinion and a listener.
For his dynamic, out of the box ideas, Nzuki has been nicknamed “Big Mind” by those who have interacted with him.
His victory in London can be attributed to the fact that the residents had embraced the new party that is focusing on empowering the hustlers.
Nzuki Anthony Wachira now says his task as the MCA is to ensure the people at grassroot majority of whom are youths are empowered economically.
Once sworn in, he will serve the London residents for the remaining term to 2022.
Kinuthia Mbugua was the first Governor for Nakuru County. He served between 2013 to 2017 when Lee Kinyanjui took over. After his tenure as Nakuru Governor, he was appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta as Statehouse comptroller.
Kinuthia Mbugua who has a degree from the University in Nairobi started his career as a DO in Marakwet before being posted to Molo.
Between 1981 to 1986, Kinuthia Mbugua was serving as the Chief Instructor at Administration Police Training Camp. He was later to serve as the APTC commandant from 1986.
In 1992, Kinuthia Mbugua served as the Deputy Provincial Commissioner in Western Kenya but was deployed to Nakuru as a DC until 1997. For the next two years, he served as Marugua DC up to September 1999. This is when he was posted to the Ministry of Natural Resources as a senior Deputy Secretary.
In 2003, Kinuthia Mbugua was appointed to serve as the Administration Police Commandant. He was to hold the position up to 2012 when he resigned to vie as the Nakuru Governor.
Before 1972, Gioto dumpsite was a quarry. After it was abandoned, residents started dumping their waste here and the county council of Nakuru turned it into the official dumping site for Nakuru Town.
Gioto lies in London estate of Nakuru. It is about 3 km from Nakuru town on the way to Kabarak. The name Gioto is a derivative of a Kikuyu word meaning a place where waste is dumped.
Gioto Dumpsite sits on a 50 hectares piece of land. Waste from homes, offices, industries and even hospitals finds its way here. It is estimated that on a daily basis, Gioto Dumpsite receives about 250 tons of waste. Definitely not a small amount.
The dumping site is always a hive of activity, especially during the day. Tractors and trucks constantly drive in and out of the site. Offloading and scavenging are the main events that get carried out at the site.
Over the years, Gioto has been a source of livelihood for many Nakuru residents especially those that live in London and other surrounding estates. The waste collectors have found numerous ways of recycling different types of waste and making an income out of it.
Due to the toxicity of some of the dumped waste, the Gioto Dumpsite has posed health risks to people in past years. Before the ban of the single-use plastic bags, the site was always an eyesore as the plastic waste was always strewn around especially after being blown by the wind. This was one of the reasons environmental activist James Wakibia started his ban plastics campaign.
Bad odours, physical injuries and the risk from respiratory diseases are some of the health hazards posed by that site. There is also the risk of heavy metals dumped that could be carcinogenic.
As the dumpsite lacks a proper drainage system, surrounding communities are during the rainy season at the risk of having the toxic waters flowing into their residences. Being on a raised ground, a lot of contaminated water finds its way into Lake Nakuru and Ndarugu river.
There are plenty of tourist attraction sites in Nakuru. For any foreign or local tourist coming to Nakuru, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Away from the famous and known attraction sites, there are plenty of other lesser-known tourist attraction sites in Nakuru.
When talking of Nakuru attraction sites, Lake Nakuru National Park comes to mind. This is the most famous tourist destination in Nakuru attracting thousands of foreign and local visitors every year.
Although it’s most famous for flamingos, Lake Nakuru National Park is home to hundreds of other bird species.
It is also home to different wild animals that roam the park. Some of the animals a visitor is likely to see at the park include baboons, white and black rhino, buffalos, giraffes and zebras among many others.
Another popular destination in Nakuru is Menengai crater. The dormant caldera is 99sq KM wide, and 485 meters deep. Currently, it is being used for the production of geothermal power.