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10 weird laws most Nairobians don’t know

By Esther Dianah | November 9th 2021

Every city has rules, laws and regulations governing them, most of which are agreeable. But there are the bizarre ones that get you laughing or wondering who really sat down to formulate them. If you think it is hard to implement some laws, then I will remind you of one politician who tabled a bill to make farting illegal! It didn’t see the light of day, though. Here are 10 weird by-laws in Nairobi.


1. Dragging a suitcase on a public street is illegal

You are probably travelling upcountry, with your heavy suitcase and opt to drag it to the bus stage. Please, let that mkokoteni guy carry it for you! It is an offence to drag a suitcase on a public street. So, next time, be careful Kanjo don’t see you or you may cool your heels at Muthurwa or the city court. 

2. You can’t enter a house on fire without permission from a senior fire officer

If you leave nyama quarter on the stove as you step out to pick sukuma wiki from the estate stall, returned to a house on fire with your baby inside, you can’t go inside to save the baby. Your baby! Insane right? Yes, but that is the law, you have to wait for authorisation from a senior fire officer. That is not all, you are required to pay for the fire services if your house is on fire, whether or not you asked for the services.

3.  Keeping a dog older than four months is illegal

Do you wonder why during the national census, you are asked the number and age of your pets? The truth is, it is illegal to keep dogs older than four months without a license, and you cannot keep more than four dogs. If found guilty for the two, you are liable to a fine.

4.  It is illegal to breed poultry that quack. They are a nuisance

If you are keeping ducks, you are almost committing the same crime as a marijuana farmer. To breed poultry that quack is considered illegal because they are a nuisance to the neighbours. They can report you to the authorities for noise disturbance.

5.  Making noise in the streets is illegal

Woe unto you if preaching is your calling and you can’t wait for Sunday to preach on the podium! We respect that the Lord has called you to minister but not in the streets, it is illegal. Come to think of those preaching on the streets is like driving straight into the police station at a super high speed, drunk on Konyagi three hours past closing time!

6.  Thou shall not slaughter an animal in front of the other!

This reminds me of my kinsmen in Western Kenya; what happens if you want to slaughter that chicken and the jogoo that has been eyeing it can’t go away? Maybe slaughter both of them? It is illegal under the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act but a vet can put them down if they are a danger to society.

7. If you want, you can have your own street!

All you need to do is register with the local authority. If it approves, you can go ahead level it, pave, channel, light, install a sewerage and drainage system for the street then the local authority will name the street after you.

8.  McMillan Memorial Library Act

The Act states that the land where the library is built cannot be sold, and if by any chance the land must be sold, the law must also be repealed or amended.

9.   It is either you are a witch or not. No middle ground!

At this point, I am thinking of the posters I come across stuck on walls written ‘Mganga Mashuhuri kutoka Kitui!’ The Witchcraft Act forbids anyone to pretend to be a witch, and anyone who holds himself as a witchdoctor with intent of pretending to exercise supernatural powers to cause fear or annoyance shall be guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

And for those seeking those services, it is illegal to use witchcraft to discover the name of a perpetrator of a crime, and you are liable to a fine of Sh500 or a jail term not exceeding five years!  

It is actually funny that the district (county) commissioner is the one who allocates witches where to stay, and any chief that does not report a witch or suspected witch will be jailed for not more than three years.

10.  When it was illegal to walk around broke

So if today broke people, and specifically men, were restricted to move around, it must be the golden age for every slay queen, I mean you wouldn’t need a lens or talking stage to know whether or not he is loaded, because the broke ones will be at home! Many years ago, an Act prohibited broke people from moving around in public places.

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