Kilimani, on face value, is the ideal place for people looking for a cosy home to live. The furnished apartments, residential and commercial villas, proper landscaping and beautifully designed houses contrast the chaos that define housing across town.
Sleek cars dominate the roads and almost every building has a uniformed security officer by the gate.
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The high rent for houses that are rarely vacant tell a story of how people are willing to break the bank to be a part of the serenity that makes up Kilimani area.
“It feels good to go home to a quiet place that is not so populated, especially if you spend your time in the town centre where noise and air pollution is the order of the day,” says Grace Otieno, an interior designer who says she bought a two-bedroom house in Kilimani for Sh11 million.
“Housing agents and companies know the high demand for Kilimani houses, so prices are higher than in other areas of Nairobi, but it is worth every coin,” she says.
Beneath the affluence however, stories of drugs, murders, prostitution and illegal dealings permeate the almost perfect façade that has defined Kilimani over the years.
The cracks started showing when reports of high-end brothels being operated in residential houses came to the fore.
The “exclusive massages” and “Cute light-skinned chicks wanted in Kilimani” adverts that dominated the online space and in posters exposed a side of Kilimani that not many people wanted to confront. Going for a “massage” in Kilimani became street lingo for getting a high-end escort.
As investigations were ongoing, horror stories of how college students were being lured into the posh estate to engage in pornographic activities became common talk, with some people sharing the gory videos of what goes on inside the expansive houses.
Then came the chilling murder tales and under dealings involving guns, fake gold, and stolen vehicles.
As if overnight, other than being known as a posh area, Kilimani has been in the press for the ratchet things that were once thought to be a preserve of the informal settlements.
“It all started when many pubs and sketchy hotels started mushrooming in the estate. That is why Kilimani residents have been fighting with the county government to control these pubs,” says Shiva Khan, a resident who has stayed in Kilimani for more than 30 years.