Two views of Chania - in 1909 and 1945 respectively. Note the difference in water volume. The 1909 photos was taken by the Roosevelt expedition. The other photo is of cars along the Nairobi-Thika ‘highway’ in the 1930s.
In the period before 1900, the Maasai and Kikuyu communities that lived here battled fiercely over the area where the pools of water from Rivers Chania and Thika provided ideal grounds for the grazers and farmers, respectively.
The Maasai didn’t really fancy it for grazing but nonetheless came here to graze. They would then get into conflict with the Agîkûyû, who lived higher up and were arable farmers. The Agïküyü wanted to be somewhere where rainfall was guaranteed and crops were assured.
The many tribesmen that perished were buried there, and these events potentially gave rise to the origin of the town’s name, “Gûthika”, which means “to bury” in Gîkûyû.
Fast forward to 1924 and the name Thika was made official and the place finally chronicled.
Thika would expand to become a prominent metropolis. Major industries, including Kenya Canners, which later became Del Monte, were set up.
In those early years, everything seemed Asian-owned. Edmunds Butchery perhaps cut a desolate picture as the only European-owned retail store in Thika.
Soon, Thika would become the industrial town - the Birmingham of Kenya, the whites called it.
One of the earliest white settlers in Thika was Elspeth Huxley, who also authored ‘The Flame Trees of Thika’, a book that chronicles her life and interactions with the Maasai and the Agïküyü from around 1913.
I would recommend that those interested in the history of modern Thika to read Elspeth’s book.
(source; historia ya wakenya)