Mukuru is one of the largest informal settlements in Kenya, divided into two main areas by a rail line – Mukuru kwa Ruben to the west and Mukuru kwa Njenga to the east. Each of these settlements includes several smaller villages.

The history of this area can be traced back before independence when Ruben, a white settler and farmer used the area of Mukuru to keep livestock. Mukuru kwa Ruben is named after this settler. Ruben employed a few Kenyan workers including Cucu Gatope, who built shelters on the land 1979 with her three daughters. The village Gatope within Mukuru kwa Ruben is named for this original settler. As the area grew, many individual villages were formed, each with their own particular history and name. Below are the stories of a few:

Gatope’s three daughters continued to inhabit and develop the area where their mother first settled. Gatope eventually became too large to administer by one individual and was divided into three neighborhoods: (1) the original area of Gatope, (2) ‘Feed the Children’ on the far eastern side of the new settlement. This village was named after a social project headed by one of Gatope’s daughters. (3) ‘Mombasa’, located between Gatope and Feed the Children, the means “to divide into zones” in Kiswahili.

The village ‘Bins’ was established adjacent to Gatope around the same time. The area is named after the company “Bins-scape” which collects waste materials around the area. Like Gatope, the population of Bins grew and eventually began to settle area of grassland east of Feed the Children. This village took the name ‘Ruriie’

The village ‘Sisal’, located in Mukuru kwa Njenga was formed in 1980 when the first chief, Mr. Ahonya, gathered all the families living along the dangerous Kenya-Uganda railway line into safer area. Located just south of Sisal, the village ‘Vietnam’ was marked to be demolished in 1996 by the Provincial Commissioner. The demolition threat incited an intense conflict between residents and the General Service Unit, which resulted in the deaths of many residents and community leaders. The village was later named after the Vietnam War, signifying how devastating this conflict was. Settlers originally from Sisal and Vietnam extended into ‘Riara’, a village named for the thorn bushes that used to cover the landscape.

Weather named after people, events, or significant places, there is a specific history to all the village names in Mukuru. ‘Zone 48’ is named after the 48 Kenyan tribes represented in this small plot of land. ‘M.C.C.’ is named after the oldest school in Mukuru, the Mukuru Community Center which was a school for homeless children. ‘Wape Wape’ is named after a famous bar in the area. The ‘Milimani’ village is named after its strategic location, “on a hill”.

Mukuru means “dumpsite”, a place to discard of useless materials and this name marks an area where Nairobi’s poorest citizens live. But within Mukuru, there are different stories and different names that trace the history and struggles of this neighborhood.


For KCr 100,
a) Mukuru kwa Zukerberg iko wapi
b) Rate Mukuru kwa Meria on a scale of 1-10

mukuru kwa meria ni 10…asanta.iyo info nilikuwa sina…

Mukuru kwa Zuckerberga umesahau