Nairobi News


The funny origin of some of our estate names

This week I came across a brilliant web page on the Kenyan history website ( which I had to share with you. It documents the hilarious origin of names of towns and locations in Kenya.

Nairobi has some fantastic ones, after all this city is a product of British colonisation. The names the settlers gave were not envisaged as permanent labels and were often purely functional. What started off as one name sometimes became twisted or lost in translation.

Here were some of my favourites:

Dagoretti Corner: The place was originally known as The Great Corner and was the site of the first airfield in Kenya. However, this was not properly pronounced and the corrupted version became Dagoretti Corner.

Kirigiti: Kigiriti stadium, where Mzee Jomo Kenyatta held his last rally before the declaration of emergency in 1952, used to be a cricket field popular with settlers in Kiambu. The local community could not pronounce ‘Cricket’ very well and started to refer to the stadium as Kirigiti.

Roysambu: Roysambu is a suburb on the Thika Superhighway. The place was known as Royal Suburbs during the colonial times however this morphed to Roy-Sabu and eventually got the name Roysambu.

Kariakor: During the First World War a contingent of Kenyans were in the British army as luggage carriers.

The Carrier Corps, as they were known, carried everything the soldiers needed to survive during the East African Campaign of the First World War.

Their base in Nairobi was around the present day Kariakor area. The locals simply called the place Carrier Corps this eventually got twisted and ended up as Kariakor by which it is known today.

Having revealed these names’ true etymology, I’m sure there must have also been plenty of names which were given by Kenyans but because the settlers could not pronounce them, they also got changed. It would be great to see another page on this site with those on it!  Any suggestions?