The place was originally known as “The Great Corner” and the Africans could not pronounce it correctly and the corrupted version became Dagoretti Corner which was directly from The Great Corner which has stuck to this day. The Great Corner was the site of the first airfield in Kenya; a patchy grass runway around the present Meteorological Department.
Rumuruti is a town in Laikipia County about 40km north of Nyahururu. How did it get its’ name? The town was on the route from Nyahururu to Mararal which was commonly used by white settlers. They referred to the trail between the two settlements as a “Remote route”. The corrupted version of this then became Rumuruti, the town name as we know it today. Rumuruti was the site of a huge meteor shower in 1934 and some of them are on sale on e-bay.
The Church of Scotland Mission was the first mission to settle in the now little town near Kikuyu in Kiambu County. The local Kikuyu Community could not pronounce the name Scotland easily and they would pronounce it as “Thigoto” and thus the name Thogoto was born. Today the town has maintained the name Thogoto and that PCEA Church of the Torch one of the oldest mission churches still stands.
This is a town in the former Rift Valley in Baringo County. A settler known as Corporal Peter lived in the area during the pre-independence period. His name was a tough one for the locals to pronounce and the area soon was referred as Kapropita which is a corrupted version of Corporal Peter.
It’s believed that the town is named after a French man known as Barnet who settled in the area and made it his home. The local Tugen people then started to refer to the place as Ka- Barnet. The word “Ka” means “the homestead of” and therefore the name Ka-Barnet means the place/home of Barnet.
Rod-Kopany: Is a busy town in Homa-Bay County. During the construction of a road in the area the Mehta Singh Road Company the residents would refer to it as Rodi Kopany. This name quickly stuck and the town was known as Rod-Kopany which is a corruption of the name Road Company.
There was a popular cricket field in Kiambu and it was popular with settlers who would frequent the place from surrounding farms. The local Kikuyu community could not pronounce the name Cricket and they pronounced it as Kirigiti. Today the stadium is referred to as Kirigiti which is just a version of Cricket but with a Kikuyu corruption to it. Mzee Jomo Kenyatta held his last rally at Kirigiti stadium before the declaration of emergency in 1952.
Roysambu is a suburb along the Thika superhighway in Nairobi City County. The place was known as “Royal Suburbs” during the colonial times. However the Africans in Nairobi pronounced it as Roy-Sabu and thus it got the name “Roysambu”.
Kariakor: During the First World War a contingent of Africans were in the British army as carrying luggage. The Carrier Corps, as they were known, carried everything the soldiers needed to survive during the East African Campaign of the First World War. Their base in Nairobi was around the present day Kariakor area. The locals simply called the place Carrier corps which with a local dialect influence sounded like “Kariako” and it’s today still called by that name.
Is a shopping centre located in Bomet County and location of one of the oldest hospitals in the region which was built in 1936. The name Tenwek is believed to have come about because it took ten weeks to travel from the Mombasa to the area by foot.
In the county of Busia there is a trading called Matayos. According to the residents of Busia a European by the name Mathew moved to the area during the colonial times. The residents referred to him as “Mathayo” which is the Kiswahili version of Mathew. However, in Luhya dialect the name was pronounced as “Matayo”. Today Matayos is one of the new constituencies in Busia.
was first called Kongowea. There came a time that many wars were fought that is why Kongowea was later to be known as Kisiwa Cha Mvita (or Mvita for short), which means ‘Island of War’, due to the many changes in its ownership.
The town is also the headquarters of Mombasa District which, like most other districts in Kenya, is named after its chief town. Several changes came about and Mvita came to be a place as “mambo ni sasa”, to literally mean (things are now). The name Mambasa was concocted from the 1st four letters of MAMBO and the last 3 letters of SASA where we get MAMBASA. This was later to be changed to Mombasa for easier pronunciation.
When the Europeans first settled in the area in the late 19th century, Kisumu became a trading post – attracting the Luo people from as far as Migori and Siaya County. The Kisumu region was then occupied by the Luo community. A person going to Kisumu at that time would say, ‘Adhi Kisuma’ to mean I’m going to trade. Derived from the word ‘Kisuma’, the word for a trading post in Luo is ‘Kisumo’. The current name Kisumu is an English corruption of the word ‘Kisumo’.
An opposing theory states that Kisumu acquired it’s name from ‘Kusuma.’ The Maragoli word for ‘trading.’ Because, before the Luo arrived in the area, the Maragoli were already trading with other people in the area like the Nandi and Maasai. It should be noted that some Luo words were acquired from the Maragoli.
The name derives from a Masai word meaning ‘place of dust’. Although its history can be dated back to the prehistoric period thanks to archaeological findings at Hyrax Hill, modern Nakuru came into existence in 1900 when the building of the railway opened up access to the surrounding lush countryside attracting hundreds of white settlers to the area.
The county is said to have been named after a Burji farmer called Marsa who was brought to Marsabit (from Ethiopia) by colonialists to teach the locals how to grow crops.
When his name was called out by his masters, Marsa used to answer ‘Abet’ (Yes in Amharic) and this led to the creation of the name Marsa-Abeit – which later became Marsabit.
According to local history the name of town comes from a slave trader called Chief Kivoi who settled near the Voi River about 400 years ago. There after the village grew as a trading centre for the local Taita people with other Kenyan tribes and Arabs.
The name Eldoret is derived from the Maasai word ‘eldore’, which literally means stony river. The river bed of the Sosiani River is very stony, whence the town derives its name. The town came into being in the year 1910 with the construction of a post office on a site, which was known to the white settlers as Farm 64, 64 or Sisibo.
The locals at that time referred to the town as Farm 64, 64 or Sisibo because, the town of Eldoret was 64 miles away from the newly established Uganda Railway railhead, located at Kibigori.
The farm was owned by Willy van Aardt. The Central Lounge in Eldoret is all that survives of Willy’s farm. When the governor planned to build an administrative center, the Post Office was renamed from 64 to Eldoret, now the official name of the town in the year 1912.
Kakamega was so named because the word ‘kakamega’ translates roughly to ‘pinch’ in Kiluhyah, which was used to describe how European colonists would eat the staple food, ugali.
The name Nyeri is derived from the Maasai word nyiro, meaning red.The Maasai people, who once lived in the county, called the area nyiro – after it’s red volcanic soil.The named was later changed to Nyeri by white settler farmers.
The name Karatina is a diminutive term for ‘Muratina’ – the name of a squash/courgette tree. The town was founded before the British Colonization of Kenya by Gikuyu women who used to trade their crafts and food under a courgette (muratina) tree. Women would direct each other on where to sell or buy merchandise under the Karatina.