Borabu Settlement Scheme boasts some of the best views in Nyamira County. Undulating hills and lush farms coupled with the clean crisp air of an unpolluted countryside have over the years proven irresistible to the region’s ultra-wealthy.
Since its formation in 1963, now almost every son of Kisii and Nyamira County worth his salt is spreading themselves thin to own a slice of what is quickly becoming the playground for the rich and famous of the region.
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Here, in a land scarce region, individuals own more than than 10 acres of land each, with affluent families having between 50 and 100 acres in their names.
Land currently goes for between Sh600, 000 and Sh2 million an acre in the scheme. The price is, however, higher in Maruti and Tindereti schemes along the main Kisii-Sotik road, and much lower in Isoge, Keneni and Mwongori along the Sotik-Borabu road where cattle rustling is prevalent.
The name ‘Borabu’ is translated to ‘light’ and majority of locals had foreseen the light long before independence.
The scheme is home to some of the region’s most famous sons and daughters. Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, Kenya Commercial Bank CEO Joshua Oigara, Solicitor General Ken Ogeto and lawyer Ken Nyaundi all call Borabu home.
From the traditional farming methods, families here have turned the large farms into model homesteads. Life here is still blissfully simple.
Abagusii settlers in the larger Borabu Settlement Scheme enjoy a higher standard of living than they did in the pre-settlement era. There are better schools, it is more accessible and is generally relatively more secure than many other hamlets in the Gusii counties.
There are several other settlement schemes within the large Borabu area, including Raitigo, which was curved out in 1962, Manga (1964), Nyansiongo (1964), Tindereti (1964), Isoge (1965), Mwongori (1965) and Matutu (1967).
However, several other schemes have come up due to acquisition of land from other individuals. They include Kitaru, Mogusii, Taifa, Kerumbe, Eronge, Ekerubo and Keneni.
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Locals here have undergone significant socio-economic and cultural changes.
Organised cooperatives are slowly replacing age old lineages and clan organisations that were at one time responsible for all dealings at the scheme.
Fertile and well-watered
During the settlement, each of the 11 clans in the Gusii community got a share of land in the settlement schemes. Abegetutu, due to their high population, had three people move the scheme, Abagirango and Abanyaribari got two each. The rest got one each.
A fertile and well-watered area, locals here live large with sufficient earnings from both farming and non-farming activities.
Borabu is also a major supplier of milk to the New Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC) depot located a few kilometres from Sotik town.
Going to school is a priority for every family living in the schemes. Today, the schemes have produced some of the most influential individuals working both in the government and private sector, including Kisii University Vice Chancellor John Akama, former Lands Commissioner Zablon Mabeya, suspended Kenya Bureau of Standards CEO Charles Ongwae, Nyamira Governor John Nyagarama and Senator Okong’o Omogeni.
Area MP Ben Momanyi says the reason for more people moving into the scheme is due to the availability of space.
“They are able to invest in productive areas and locals here are generally more enlightened,” says Momanyi.
Former Bomachoge MP Omweri Kebwage, who moved to the scheme 50 years ago, says locals have justified their stay in the area.
Omweri served in the settlement committee and played a critical role in the demarcation and allocation of land.
“We never inherited anything from the white settlers. Some of them had to kill their animals before we moved in because they never wanted to leave them behind,” he says.