Years back, Deputy President William Ruto took his boss President Uhuru Kenyatta to his home in Kamagut, Uasin Gishu County and showed him the house he lived in as a 'hustler', and which sharply contrasts with the residences he and other leaders live in now.
We set out to discover the kind of houses leaders, principally MPs, senators and governors, are living in after being elected to office, and the results were startling. Some of the magnificent buildings clearly stand out from the rest in their neighbourhoods as they tower over everything in view, with their well-manicured lawns embellished with exotic flowers - a sure feast for the eyes.
This is not surprising given that Kenyans attach a lot of premium to houses and land, a factor that has continuously pushed real estate prices through the roof. According to a recent housing index from property firm Hass Consult, land prices in Nairobi have risen by over 500 per cent in eight years, from Sh30 million an acre in 2007 to over Sh170 million today, fuelling speculation of a property bubble.
According to a report on mortgage and rent affordability in the Nairobi metropolitan, the city's most expensive houses are in Nyari, Karen, Runda, Muthaiga and Kitisuru. These are some of the areas where elected leaders prefer to build their multi-million shilling homes although the trend is being replicated in other parts of the country. Consequently, investment in counties such as Machakos, Kiambu and Kajiado have increased over the last year, boosting earnings for sellers but hiking costs for buyers and tenants.
It is on these prime lands that leaders are investing millions to put up their dream homes, although some prefer to build in their rural villages.