Raha zako: In Nakuru, you can drink busaa at Hilton, sleep in Kwa Rhonda


A section of Ponda Mali and Race course estate in Nakuru town [Photo:Kipsang Joseph]

You might not need a flight to travel to Hilton or London Estate.

Both are in Nakuru, a County not just once famous for flamingos but also residential areas with fancy names. Consider the dusty Kisulisuli Estate neighboring Shauri Yako and the sprawling slums of Ponda Mali and on to Mzee Wanyama estates.

These quirky names are fleshed from people, funny incidences and locations.     

Mzee Wa Nyama, a bustling small centre, earned its name from a passenger’s lost meat. The story goes that an old man who lived close by alighted from a matatu one evening but lost the meat he was carrying home. He retraced his steps to the centre where he asked around if someone had come across his meat. Tough luck. The incidence became a topic at the centre for days earning the place its name as Mzee Wa Nyama, a play on the old man and nyama.

James Kanye, a former Councillor who has lived there for over 60 years, told The Nairobian that the centre was finally named “Mzee wa Nyama since the mzee just lived close by,”

Paul Machanga is another famous resident in Nakuru Town West who gave the area the name Machanga, which, unlike today, was densely populated. Paul is said to have been the first to build a beautiful home there and the area was slowly nicknamed Machanga which neighbours Shauri Yako.

Kwa Rhonda, one of the largest sprawling slums in Nakuru, got its name from a white woman, a famous sisal farmer who employed many locals in the area. Kanye recalls that “locals however twisted the name to Rhonda to fit the local dialect and soon started saying ‘naenda Kwa Rhonda’. With time, Kwa Rhonda got its name,”

And while Ponda Mali (squander your wealth) is a name which depicts a posh place where residents ‘only sit as they enjoy their wealth’, this slum in Nakuru is the exact opposite. 

George Maina, a resident, says “Ponda Mali is that place everyone lives a day at a time. It is a slum, but people seems to be happy there.”

Kwa Mrogi is another popular place where a renowned witch doctor, who was feared and respected, lived. He was so ruthless few inhabited the place named after the mrogi.

Kivumbini and Kisulisuli share almost the same history – the areas are famed for whirlwinds and dust.

Kivumbini is dusty just as Kusulisuli. Manyani, the estate that borders Lake Nakuru National Park, is famed for stray, mischievous baboons famous for causing havoc from sneaking into bedrooms, stealing food to siphoning milk from a straw besides scaling mabati fences erected to deter them.

And offering the unrivalled panoramic view of Nakuru, are London and Hilton Estates. They, however, do not physically represent their namesakes as pigs are common at London’s largest dumping site, also home to vultures.

You will also irrigate your throat with unadulterated busaa in Hilton and London while drinking from a hill top, the scenic views of Lake Nakuru National Park down below.

Kanye explains that “London sits on the highest point within town and when we were young we use to joke that we were going to London, far away and on higher grounds. Soon, London got its name. Hilton too, a neighbouring estate on elevated ground, earned its name that way.”

While Hilton and London are cosmopolitan, other areas earned their names from the majority ethnic community there like Abongloghya estate.

It borders Bondeni slums and Kampi Somali estate.

Abongloghya and Kampi Somali hosted Turkana and Somali communities respectively. These estates are, however, now ethnically integrated but their names remained as pointers to their histories.


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