Pre-independence Planning Attemtps Of Nairobi

The emergence of planning in Nairobi can be traced back to the arrival of the train in the plains of the  River Nrobi. This place was chosen by the railway builders as an ideal resting spot while awaiting the ascent of the steep Limuru escarpments. Kenya’s first proposal was to establish a railroad town along the rails, a colonialist’s first infrastructure built to link the hinterland to the coastal region.

Nairobi was a good option because it provided a convenient stopover between Mombasa and Kisumu, as well as sufficient water supply from the nearby Nairobi and Mbagathi rivers. The terrain was relatively flat, making factories, industrial areas, and a depot possible.

Following the establishment of the railway depot, certain spatial trends emerged, including the railway station, a shopping center, housing quarters, and the Indian bazaar. This layout was based on the 1898 Railway Town Plan and the 1899 Railway Staff Quarters Plan.

Nairobi’s transformation from a railway town to an administrative and commercial center under the British protectorate was aided by the move of provincial offices from Machakos to Nairobi first, and then the protectorate headquarters from Mombasa to Nairobi.

In 1900, the city became Nairobi’s first township. This was the beginning of the town’s municipal government. By this time, the city had grown into a large and prosperous town, with settlements primarily consisting of KUR structures, separate residential neighborhoods for Europeans and Indians, and a small African settlement in Eastland. By 1909, a large part of Nairobi’s internal structure was already built, particularly in the Central Business District (CBD). In the year 1919 Nairobi was named as a municipal council with corporate rights

Nairobi was 25Km2 in 1920, 90km2 in 1927, and 684 square kilometers in 1995. Nairobi’s business and regulatory status extended related to its populace. Key business roads like Delamere Street- now Kenyatta Avenue and Government Road-now Moi Avenue, became significant shopping zones as zones like Bazaar Street now-Biashara Street emerged. Hence, a lot of the old buildings in the town are also located on these streets

With the commissioning of the 1948 Master plan by the Nairobi Municipal Council and the Railway Authority, the settler capital was further elevated to a colonial capital. The plan’s main goal was to make Nairobi more appealing as a capital for Kenya and the East African region. The plan, like other proposals for colonial capitals, aimed to improve relations between the colonizing nation and the colonial territory.

Nairobi-Master-Plan-for-a-Colonial-Capital-Source-

However, the plan was specific, focusing on European and Asian traders, with the raised grounds toward the west saved for private use. Since the land seemed, by all accounts, to be abandoned (pastoralism practice by the Masais), it provided opportunities for land appropriation.

In the early stages of the growth of Nairobi, racial character in various places portrays the racial segregation created by spatial organizations. Europeans lived on the railways in the north and west;in areas where they had easy access to ports and roads for the transportation of goods, the colonisers developed centers of life represented by administrative, cultural, economic, and recreational activities.. Africans and Indians were restricted to the eastern and southern regions.

As a result, the spatial structures of Nairobi, became overly dependent on a limited number of economic geographic areas.With a few exceptions, these land-uses have remained unchanged in modern-day Nairobi.

Refrences

Teckla, Muhoro, et al. “Reflections on Architectural Morphology in Nairobi, Kenya: Implications for Conservation of the Built Heritage.” Conservation of Natural and Cultural Heritage in Kenya: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach, edited by Mugwima Njuguna and Anne-Marie Deisser, 1st ed., UCL Press, London, 2016, pp. 75–92. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1gxxpc6.12. Accessed 15 Mar. 2021.

Owuor S, Mbatia T. POST INDEPENDENCE DEVELOPMENT OF NAIROBI CITY, KENYA Pre-colonial patterns of urbanity and rurality and the European colonial legacy 3. Urban Geology of Nairobi. 2008;1(1):22-23. http://erepository.uonbi.ac.ke/bitstream/handle/11295/38925/2008_dakar_workshop.pdf?sequence=1

What Makes Rwanda Africa’s Most Inspiring Success Story

I’m curious, where do you get your news from? apart from memes and twitter. I did a poll on my Instagram account but I’d love to hear from you. As for me, I prefer not watching Tv news, especially during these pandemic times, coz of the negative anxiety that’s comes with it. I think watching the news makes me worry about things that are beyond my control.

Not that I don’t care about what’s going on, but the news makes me look at the world within the mindset that created the problems. someone might say, why don’t you just have a mindset shift or watch the news with an open mind but different people have different ways of protecting their mental health.

That has been my biggest hack to stay sane during this time. I avoid the news to keep my head around the things I care about, so I prefer customizing my google to bring me news on topics I care about or just randomly checking my socials especially my twitter account to keep myself on the know.

Speaking of twitter, Today’s post is a series of urban tweets I came across, that might interest you, and simply admiring Rwanda as a country. Y’all have heard how the country is termed as beautiful and of the most inspiring success story in Africa. I know that title’s huge, but the country has really done a good job of bouncing back from the tragic 1994 Rwandan Genocide. In this post, we will highlight and discuss several things that make the country unique and beautiful. I too, wish was writing about my country. But there’s a lot of lessons we can learn from them. More so what we can achieve with good leadership and discipline from its citizens.

Rwanda is one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever see. We can say this country is generally blessed just like many of the countries in Africa. Although the country is landlocked, it’s geography is beautiful, filled with mountains, savannah, lakes (Lake Kivu), and hills hence its nickname:” The land of a thousand hills

The city has Instagram-worthy view, so there’s plenty of viewpoints. Environment and animal conservation are a major priority in the country. The country has a diverse ecosystem and Its government is committed to ensuring that, the local environment is preserved. Since they have worked tirelessly to protect the mountain gorillas in the Virunga mountain range and the environment generally. In 2008, Rwanda banned the use of plastic bags in efforts to go green.

Kigali’s growing business district simply explains the country’s growth stories. This is coz of the successful government policies that have enabled the country to experience a fast transforming economy. Although a percentage of its citizens live below the poverty line, The Rwandan president has noted his ambition to make the country the ‘Singapore of Africa’. In spite of being the smallest country in East Africa, it is listed among the safest country in the world, ahead of countries like New Zealand. This has made tourism to be one of the fastest-growing industries in the country. Interesting places to visit are the Volcanoes National Park and the Kigali Genocide Memorial. This tweet will explain the kind of leadership this country has.

Simple policies like having a clean-up session that every able-bodied person age ranges from 18 to 65 participates have made them be ranked as the cleanest country in Africa. The clean-up session is called Umuganda meaning: coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome. Some will argue that it’s because of how dense its population is, but it takes a lot to achieve that, from its leadership to the discipline of its citizen. If you’ve seen the recent story: Lessons from Rwanda that Jeff Koinage (Kenyan news anchor) did that was aired on Citizen tv then you’ll understand what I’m talking about. The streets are so clean!

The city is an example of a human city since its beautiful, functional, and able to accommodate its citizen population. It is at the forefront of urbanism and sustainable transport, it’s quite easy to get around the city because of the safe motorbike taxis. Beautified streets and quality footpaths of the city center and people can walk safely at night. Kigali Convention Centre being one of the most iconic places in the city

67 Percent of the parliament’s positions are occupied by women. This is a wow factor since women around the world are going against the traditional gender roles to take positions of power, which is happening at a higher rate than normal in Rwanda.

Rwanda is definitely a must visit place. You can add other fun facts about Rwanda that you know off and it’s fascinating. I came across this other tweet but that’s a topic for another day.


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We need to Humanise Cities.

My introductions have always started with life insights or me recommending a nice book or a Tv show, (I assume you’ve noticed that by now), but today’s different. I remember commenting somewhere that I didn’t want this to be a rant blog, but our city’s situation is wanting!

I’m writing this with lots of emotions coz of the heartbreaking accident of a cyclist that happened on Thika Road, Nairobi. (may his soul rest in peace) I was so touched by the numbers that came out on the cyclist lives matter protest that happened on Saturday. That clearly showed how unsafe our roads are for the non-motorists in the Nairobi


I often imagine cycling (as an alternative to beat the traffic) but only the thought of it, is scary, from my safety, the routes to take, and where to park my bicycle. The city itself is discouraging the few that are reasonable enough to take responsibility on their own hands to reduce air pollution and at least decongest the city. I agree we all are responsible for how our cities turn out to be. But how can we even afford to take responsibility if the city itself isn’t built for us? Today’s post is a call for creating more human spaces in cities and towns.

Being a non-motorist in Kenya is clearly a death sentence. That’s the main reason why the majority of the population insists on driving themselves around the city. This continues to increase the number of cars on roads thus congestion and air pollution.

A program was recently done by Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS) which involved the conversion of spaces into pedestrian walkways and cycling lanes, to make it easy for residents to walk and cycle from home to work in the CBD. Instead, motorists are already parking along the walkways, inconveniencing pedestrians as well as cyclists. This article highlights the shocking numbers of pedestrians and cyclists that die in road accidents in Kenya.https://insuranceguru.co.ke/road-accidents-in-kenya/

The term humanising the city means humans become the dominant priority in the organisation of the cities’ spaces. (cities serving the people who live in them). This is important since the citizens are the city, if the citizens are not feeling comfortable then, the city certainly is not human-centered. There needs to be a shift in the way cities are developed, cities should be developed with the intent to create better places for humans to inhabit. Urban designers and planners should consider the following strategies to Humanise space in cities and towns;-

  • Have visions and goals towards human-centered cities.
  • Have approaches that recognize problems that city dwellers face yet it also providers economic incentives.
  • Have engagement platforms to get to know what the citizens want.

Human-centered design will have a huge impact on the sense and vibrancy of the city, its advantages include:

  • Create a better place for humans to live.
  • Will make cities and human settlements more inclusive, resilient, safer, and more sustainable.
  • It will empower citizens to make more informed decisions.
  • Attracts density of people to use the NMT.

We’d love to see less car-centric streets and more pedestrians oriented.

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How cities affects our mental health.

I love self- development books, the how-tos and the secret to kind of books, or scientifically proven ways on how to accomplish a certain task books. Just like the one I mentioned in my previous post.

Don’t get me wrong I also love me some good stories, first the logic-oriented books or the ones that introduce you to so many new concepts that make you change the way you think about certain things. I discovered another mind opener book called The courage to be disliked by Ichiro Kishimi, Fumitake Koga. The book has so many pieces of wisdom that not only had me rethink my life perspective but also allowed me to put new truths into action. Let me just mentions bits that broadened my thinking:

  • Trauma doesn’t exist, people just choose that kind of life. (yeah right, I was surprised too, sounds victim blaming but he explains his perspective)
  • If we are upset about something its coz of the story, we are telling ourselves about that particular thing.
  • We choose to be unhappy and we are using that particular circumstance to justify that. (happiness is a choice)
  • You are the only one who’s worried about how you look. (people are busy worrying about themselves, what makes you think that they are actively thinking about you?🤡)
  • Choose the best path that you believe in, what kind of judgment that other people pass on that choice, that’s the task of other people and that’s a matter you can’t do anything about it.
  • We should not compliment or insults anyone but only give affirmations.

I think that’s enough to get you reading the book. Just don’t overthink it, and question everything including people that suffer from mental health problems. I don’t know a lot about mental health but what I know is, some mental health problems are a result of both genetic and environmental factors. Read the book with an open mind and take away the good ideas.

Speaking of mental health. How are you feeling today? How’s your mental health? September is National Suicide Prevention Month, I thought I would write about how urban life affects our mental health. The questions of urban living and mental health is a complex issue that’s related to many other interrelated factors. Urban life exerts a huge impact on our wellbeing including mental health. The impacts can either be positive or negative.

Studies show that urban dwellers have a 20% higher risk of developing anxiety disorders and a 40% risk of developing mood disorders. Urban stressors include air and noise pollution, lack of enough greenery, traffic congestion, etc. These challenges are brought by the rapid pace that our cities and towns are growing. (Effects of urbanisation) Social stress is the main factor that causes mental disorders in urban areas. Like living in crowded areas will bring you stress.

The key to improving our wellbeing in urban areas is by making the city more livable and concentrating the city design on Sensory Landscape. By sensory landscape I mean the smelling, hearing, seeing, touching, and even tasting of the city. we often interpret the city through the technical rather than the sensory, yet it is the sensory from which we build feeling and emotion and through which our psychological landscapes are built.

Just differentiate the feeling you have when you walk on Moi Avenue street and the one that’s on Aga khan Walk on a sunny day. Lots of study shows how our interactions with nature improve our state of mind because people tend to be more active in nature and sights sounds and smell of the greenery boosts our mood.

Aga khan walk.Nairobi.

The physical nature of cities also puts a strain on the emotional wellbeing of their inhabitants. When planning new neighbourhoods and refurbishing existing ones we should put in mind phycological health. What if our city planners and designers start their plan with words like beauty, love, happiness, or excitement as opposed to spatial outcomes or ‘planning framework? We need to understand people’s emotions. A lot of us are talking about sustainable development forgetting that cities need to be psychologically and emotionally sustaining. If we are talking about sustainability let it be sustained across a range.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinion on this. Get in Touch!

Edited by Noor