History of Nakuru
The history of Nakuru can perhaps be traced to the prehistoric period due to the archaeological discoveries located about 8 km from the Central Business District at the Hyrax Hill reserve. Nakuru is Kenya’s 4th largest urban centre with a population of 570,674. (The modern town, as with many others in Kenya, derives its name from the ‘Maasai‘ speaking people of Kenya.) Nakuru was established by the British as part of the White highlands during the colonial era and it has continued growing into a cosmopolitan city. It received township status in 1904 and became a municipality in 1952.
The history of Kenya as a country is closely intertwined with that of Nakuru as a town and a district that is now a county. The first and second presidents of Kenya (Jomo Kenyatta, and Daniel Arap Moi) maintained their semi-official residences within the city. The city for a long time has been a hotbed of Kenyan politics and it was home to a variety of colourful politicians including the late Kariuki Chotara, Kihika Kimani and the late Mirugi Kariuki and Koigi Wamwere.
In 2006, the then MP, Mirugi Kariuki was killed in a plane crash in Marsabit on his way to a peace meeting. The crash also killed five other members of parliament. The ensuing by-election was contested and won by his son, William Kariuki Mirugi of the Narc-Kenya party. At the age of 27, Hon. William Kariuki Mirugi became one of the youngest members of parliament to represent Nakuru Town Constituency. He was however defeated by Lee Kinyanjui during the 2007 general elections beating his close rival Pastor Mike Brawan. The 2007 post-election violence also took a toll on the town, with dozens of buildings burnt to the ground by various factions.
Geography of Nakuru
The city of Nakuru is situated in Nakuru County, Kenya. It lies 1850 meters above sea levels on the highlands of Kenya giving it a climate similar, albeit a bit colder, to Nairobi.
Like most rift valley cities, Nakuru enjoys a temperate climate throughout the year but temperatures fall significantly at night and during the cold season of June to August. The city has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification ).
Economy of Nakuru
Agriculture, manufacturing and tourism are the backbones of the economy of Nakuru. The area surrounding the city is known for its vast agricultural potential with numerous small farms and also vast agricultural enterprises. The main crops grown around Nakuru and marketed in the city include coffee, wheat, barley, maize, beans and potatoes. These crops are stored in massive silos at the outskirts of the city by the National Cereals and Produce Board and Lesiolo Grain Handlers Limited. The crops provide the primary raw material for the manufacturing industries found in Nakuru and Nairobi. These industries include flour milling and grain ginneries. Dairy farming is a key economic activity and provides the inputs for various milk processing plants around the city.
Other manufacturing industries include Menengai soap factory, Car and General motorcycle plant, Eveready battery plant, Fertiplant East Africa, and many more.
The city also prides itself on being the home of Kenya’s largest retail supermarket chains. Nakumatt, Naivas, Tuskys, and Gilanis supermarkets were all founded in the Nakuru.
According to a UN study released in 2011, Nakuru is Africa’s fastest-growing city and the fourth in the world.
The city is also a centre for various retail businesses that provide goods and services to the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. A large public market lies to the west of the town on the main thoroughfare to the capital, Nairobi.
Higher education and research
Nakuru is also an important educational centre. It is the home of Egerton University, a large public university, and Kabarak University, a private university associated with former President Moi’s business and religious interests. Molo Academy (both primary and secondary) school are located here) The Rift Valley Institute of Technology is also based here, as is the Kenya Industrial Training Institute (KITI). The Kenya Institute of Management (KIM) has a college branch in Nakuru. Nakuru is now becoming a centre of academics with campuses for the University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology, Mount Kenya University, Laikipia University, Kenya Methodist University being set up in the city. Other important institutions include The Institute of Advanced Studies, Kenya Institute of Biomedical Sciences and Technology (KIBSAT), Institute of Advanced Technology (IAT), Tracom College, AIRADS, Savannah Institute for Business and Informatics (SIBI) and most recent Nakuru Training Institute (NTI), which is a project of Nakuru Christian Professionals Association. The institute, popularly known as Centre of Hope trains youths at moderate fees and offers full sponsorship to the needy in the community. It partners with Nakurun Lapset (Finland) among others. Mwangaza College, initially called the Bishop Ndingi Centre for skills formation, is also another known college in Nakuru.
Primary and secondary education
Nakuru is also a home to numerous public and private secondary schools. Public schools include Nakuru Boys High School and Nakuru Girls High School formerly Nakuru High School founded in 1926 as a school for European settler children, and Menengai High School and Nakuru day secondary school.
Public library system
There is a well-stocked public library run by the Kenya National Library Service. The Library is along Moses Mudavadi road a short distance from the town centre.
Nakuru hospital is one of the largest in the county previously the biggest in Rift Valley province. It is also home to the Nakuru War Memorial Hospital opened shortly after world war 1 by Norman Jewell to commemorate troops both African and European.