Brief History Of Thika

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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)


Kudos man.time machine indeed.

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That is one town I’d like to live in.

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Up to now I don’t think they can live peacefully.

@ES, the Agikuyu never used to bury their dead, or so I thought… maybe there’s another explanation to the name,

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Sawa tu lakini hapo kwa picha, umetubeba wholesale. That hill in the third picture, can’t figure it out.


Very true @Young the story of Maara na Nyina sheds light to the way the Gikuyu used to dispose of the dead.

The ones who were not buried were those who died at home of natural causes, they used to be taken deep into the forest where nobody ever went. Thika, being a lush green and attractive to the two communities was different, after a battle the bodies had to be buried

I din’t know how the war dead were treated… so does it mean that the Maa too had a name for the place and wot would it have been? and finally does it mean the Greeks won the war to retain the place?

wakienda wapi?


ni nyina kana ni ithe?



Nice history. One of the best towns in the former central province.

True, I was thinking it was the thika garissa route

I totally agree with you

You know in ‘Greek’ mythology, there was “murutani wa gikuo” a very revered & feared creature. did he accompany the warriors to the battle field?

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The Agikuyu used to bury atigaire na ireri!
Others were not buried but disposed off (can’t divulge more)

The other explanation comes from the Maasai word sika, meaning “rubbing something off an edge”. In addition, the area was originally inhabited by the Akamba tribe. Towards the end of the 19th Century outsiders began to settle in this outpost, a convenient resting spot between Nairobi and upcountry for British settlers. Europeans and Asians began to stop and remain at Thika, the former setting up farms, and the latter setting up shops. A monument, in the shape of a pillar, was erected by the British in the early 1900s in the central business district of Thika. It commemorates the founding of Thika as a town. The town was given its status by Government Gazette in 1924. Thereafter, it was elevated to a second class municipality when Kenya gained independence in 1963, and the first Mayor was elected in 1968.

Thika Town measures about 93 square kilometres. It has a population of 150,000 at night and 350,000 people, during the day (1999 Census).


nice history but origin of names always have the european descent

Nîkîo twîtagwo ashenji tondû nî twashenjirio.
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