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Nairobi’s last space frontier is gone, but hustlers don’t need to worry

By XN Iraki | September 25th 2019
By XN Iraki | September 25th 2019

Kamulu is one of Nairobi’s last frontiers. Beyond Kamulu, you get into Machakos County and leave the city of Nairobi behind.

The town is a much drier place and more recently settled. Its religious legacy fascinates me. There are street names like Covenant, Injili, Ebenezer and Church, and at Kamulu town centre, the Vatican bar!

The amount of empty land around leaves no doubt that Kamulu has recently been settled on. The trees are young and there are some original shrubs, indicating a dry, windswept place. Clearly, it was settled on after the rest of Nairobi was, and mostly by hustlers who seem to always get the worst deal.

The dry weather of Eastlands makes it ideal for urban settlement – there’s no better way to use the land. We could leave the highlands and green areas for farming and water catchment.

But as usual, we started by settling in well-watered areas before shifting to the drier places. Westlands and its environs were settled on much earlier than Kamulu or Eastlands. Noted the historical buildings around Westlands, a few with original roof shingles still intact? The green environment drew the rich and powerful. It still does.

The expansion

Unlike Umoja or Kayole, which benefited from big housing projects, Kamulu and its relative Joska are on their own. Each individual is hustling to build a home with its own facilities for water and sewerage. I’m told insecurity is not a big issue “because of close proximity to Machakos”. I was not given further details.

Land is cheaper in Kamulu and attracts hustlers out to own property and the pride that goes with this. Adverts for plots show land available for as little as Sh250,000.

The expansion of the city seems to have reached its limit. The green areas reached the limit or borders earlier with Two Rivers and other boundaries set by institutions like the University of Nairobi or Ngong Forest. On the Kiambu side, it was coffee plantations. On the eastern side were wide, open plains that now host Kamulu, Katani and Joska.

The end of Nairobi’s frontier space will suck in the outlying areas. We’ve already sucked in Ngong, Kitengela, Githurai and other Nairobi bedrooms. Ruaka, Kikuyu, Kinoo, Uthiru and nearby towns have benefited from the end of Nairobi’s frontier.

These once-sleepy towns and hamlets are benefiting from an influx of money and strangers with their entrepreneurship and innovations. Just visit Ruaka during the day or night.

The limit to frontiers will mean a rise in the cost of land. With no more idle land in Nairobi, what’s left will become more precious and pricey. The counties contiguous to Nairobi could take advantage of this to bring in new investors. With their land, the counties could give Nairobi a run for its money, but I doubt they’ll match its prestige. It’ll remain cool to be a Nairobian, unless the capital shifts.

Hustlers need not worry, though, for they will still be able to afford land outside the city’s borders. The land market in Nairobi where only your money matters will be interrupted by traditions, which are dying away slowly.

Why else did Kitengela outgrow Wangige? Why has Ruaka suddenly flourished? The beauty about hustlers is that they’re forever hopeful – which is perhaps the reason they give streets in Kamulu biblical names. Where are you planning to buy your next plot?

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