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The economics of Ruaka…

By XN Iraki | February 24th 2021

Ruaka is popularly referred to as the Eastlands of the Westlands. Densely populated mostly by youngsters. It’s part of Kiambu County.

Ruaka’s fine weather and well-designed houses, probably from diaspora influence, welcomed Nairobians with open arms when Nairobi began spilling over.

Nevertheless, traditions kept the land within families, clans or mbari and it was hard to buy. But that would change too.

As the older generation died off, capitalists made their move. The next generation was also attuned to capitalism.

They were more willing to unlock the market value of the land by selling it. Few capitalists could resist the proximity to the city and more recently good transport network. Once the Western bypass and Eastern bypass are complete, Ruaka will be even more attractive. 

Ruaka isn’t the only one in this situation, Muchatha, Banana and beyond will benefit from this spillover from the city. The problem with Ruaka is that there is no public space.

This has one particular roundabout as the only open space. Residents looking for a place to rest sit there. Another group of capitalists compete with men and women seeking rest. They are the dog sellers who use the roundabout as their market. 

The dogs of all sizes, breeds and colours bark as you drive by. And there are customers. Owning a dog has become a status symbol. And lots of those living in Ruaka are young and status conscious. Who said the market is not efficient? 

Status consciousness amid widening inequality has created a great market for dogs, once relegated to only guarding homes and hunting. Now they live indoors, have their food bought at the supermarket, are groomed and taken out for walks. Now they compete for attention with children, and might replace children soon. 

It seems modernisation has many facets, some that go against common sense. What would my grandmother think of me if she found a dog in my house? How come cats are rarely on sale? Will they be next after a critical number of us own dogs? What of horses? Which will be the next status symbol? In some countries owning exotic pets like cheetals or pangolin is a status symbol. Has the car become too common as a status symbol?  Ever bought a dog at Ruaka? How are the prices? Talk to us.

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