Nakuru is a city in the Rift Valley region of Kenya. It is the capital of Nakuru County, and is the third largest city in Kenya. As of 2019, Nakuru has an urban population of 570,674, making it the largest urban centre in the Rift Valley, succeeding Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County. The city lies along the Nairobi–Nakuru Highway, 160 kilometres (99 mi) from Nairobi.
Archaeological discoveries were located about 8 kilometres (26,000 ft) from the Central Business District at Hyrax Hill.
The city was incepted on 28 January 1904 when a local area one mile away from the railway station’s main entrance was proclaimed to be a township. The name of the town was derived from the Maasai-speaking people of Kenya.
During the colonial era, the British established Nakuru as part of the White highlands and became a municipality in 1952.
After the founding of the Republic of Kenya, the first and second presidents of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Arap Moi respectively, had their semi-official residences. The city had been known for Kenyan politics and was a home to politicians such as Kariuki Chotara, Kihika Kimani, Mirugi Kariuki, and Koigi Wamwere.
During the 2007 post-election violence, dozens of buildings in Nakuru were burnt to the ground.
On 3 June 2021, Nakuru was no longer a municipality after the Kenyan Senate voted that its status was adequate enough to be a city. Following the Senate of Kenya‘s approval in June, the President of the Republic of Kenya chartered Nakuru on 1 December 2021. It is the fourth urban center in Kenya to be declared a city after Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu
The city of Nakuru is situated in Nakuru County, Kenya. It lies 1,850 meters above sea level.
The Nyayo Gardens are located along Kenyatta Avenue in Nakuru.
Agriculture, manufacturing and tourism make up the economy of Nakuru. Around the city, it is widely known for its agricultural activity. The main crops grown include coffee, wheat, barley, maize, beans, and potatoes. These crops are stored in massive silos at the outskirts of the city, stored by the National Cereals and Produce Board and Lesiolo Grain Handlers Limited. The crops are the main sources for manufacturing industries found in Nakuru and Nairobi, such as flour milling and grain ginneries. Dairy farming is the main supplier for milk processing plants within Nakuru.
Some manufacturing industries include the production of soaps, motorcycles, batteries, and gardening equipment.
According to a UN study released in 2011, Nakuru is Africa’s fastest-growing city and the fourth fastest 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.
Nakuru is the home of Egerton University and Kabarak University, a private university associated with former President Moi‘s business and religious interests. Mount Kenya University, University of Nairobi and Kenyatta University have campuses situated here.
Nakuru contains numerous public and private secondary schools. Public schools include Nakuru Boys High School and Nakuru Girls High School (formerly Nakuru High School), Menengai High School, and Nakuru Day Secondary School.
There is a public library run by the Kenya National Library Service.
The Nakuru hospital is one of the largest in the county, historically the biggest in the province of Rift Valley. It is also home to the Nakuru War Memorial Hospital, opened shortly after World War I by Norman Jewell to commemorate troops.
Police and law enforcement
Nakuru has a fire department that can be accessed by calling 911. The number can be called in case of any other emergencies.
Nakuru is home to the Lanet Airstrip, later approved in 2017 to be upgraded to an international airport by the Ministry of Transport and the county government.
Nakuru is also home to Kabarak Airstrip, located 20 kilometres (12 mi) away from the city centre.
Dondori Road C86 links the city to central Kenya. The Eldoret-Nairobi highway passes through this city, linking Uasin Gishu County with Nairobi.
The Rift Valley Railways narrow gauge track runs through the city with a railway station located on the edge of the CBD. It connects to cities Nairobi and Mombasa to the east, and Kisumu and Eldoret to the west.
Two kilometers north of the town of Nakuru is Lake Nakuru, one of the Rift Valley soda lakes, which forms part of the Lake Nakuru National Park. The park was declared a rhino sanctuary in 1983 a Ramsar site in 1990, and as an Important Bird Area in 2009. The park is internationally known for its dense flamingo population. It is an important feeding site for great white pelicans that nest in nearby Lake Elmenteita. The park is home to over 450 species of birds and 56 mammal species, including Rothchild’s giraffes.
Another point of interest includes Menengai Crater, a dormant volcano. Small fumaroles and steam vents can regularly be observed within the forested caldera from above. The second largest surviving volcanic crater in the world, it plunges 483 meters down from the rim, and the summit is accessible by walking or driving 8 kilometers to Nyahururu. The wood-covered crater ground is a nature reserve.
Culture and contemporary life
The food culture of Nakuru includes a variety of local and international cuisines.
Afraha Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Nakuru, Kenya. It is mainly used for football matches, and it is the home stadium of Nakuru AllStars — part of the Kenyan Premier League — and Ulinzi Stars of the Kenyan Premier League. The stadium holds 8,200 people and opened in 1948. It is two kilometres from the famous Lake Nakuru National Park. Although it was used for playing sports, Afraha Stadium became famous for hosting many political meetings, including the GEMA promoted change The Constitution Series held in the 1970s. The former ruling party KANU also held many prominent meetings during the presidency of Daniel arap Moi.
Nakuru has local skaters and skateboarders in the Maasai market area on weekends.
The Rift Valley Sports Club lies in the centre of the city. The club was started in 1907 by white European settlers who had settled in Nakuru in the early 1900s. A number of sporting activities are hosted at this club, including cricket. The local Indian community can be found at cricket fixtures throughout the year.
The city hosts an annual rugby festival, The Great Rift 10-a-side, featuring teams throughout the East Africa region. It is held at the Nakuru Athletics Club. Nakuru is one of six cities to host a leg of the national rugby sevens circuit. Nakuru’s part in the competition is referred to as the prinsloo sevens. It has contributed to one of Nakuru’s nicknames, Nax Vegas.
A motor racing track, Nakuru Park (not to be confused with the Langa Langa circuit near Gilgil), operated in the Lake View Estate area from 1956 until the mid 1980s.
Demographics and surrounding towns
Nakuru is populated by people of various backgrounds. The population is predominantly composed of the Kalenjin, Kikuyu, and Luhya people. The city has Gusii people and Kenyans of Indian origin. Some settler families still live in the area today. According to the 2019 Kenya Population Census, Nakuru had the third-largest urban population in Kenya.
Surrounding towns include the residential town Lanet, approximately 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from Nakuru. Njoro lies 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Nakuru and is a small agricultural town with a local university aimed at promoting agricultural development in Kenya, namely Egerton University established in 1934.
Nakuru is the headquarters of the Nakuru County in the counties of Kenya. The current governor is Susan Kihika, and the Member of Parliament for the town is David Gikaria. The senator for Nakuru is Tabitha Karanja.