Overview of Kajiado County
Kajiado county lies at the southern edge of the former Rift Valley province, about 80km from the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
The county has a beautiful and diverse topography ranging from volcanic hills and valleys to expansive plains.
Kajiado sits on an area of 21,901 square kilometres and borders Nakuru, Nairobi and Kiambu to the north, Narok to the west, Makueni and Machakos to the east and Taita-Taveta and Tanzania to the south.
The name Kajiado is derived from the Maasai word 'Orkejuado' which means 'the long river' in reference to a seasonal river that flows west of Kajiado town.
Kajiado County Government
Kajiado County is divided into five constituencies: Kajiado North, Kajiado Central, Kajiado South, Kajiado West and Kajiado East.
The county's top leaders are David Ole Nkedianye (Governor), Kobia Kamau (County Commissioner), Peter Mositet (Senator) and Mary Yiane Senata (Women Representative).
Kajiado is represented by the following members of the National Assembly; Joseph Manje (MP-Kajiado North), Joseph Nkaissery (MP-Kajiado Central), Katoo Ole Metito (MP-Kajiado South), Moses Ole Sakuda (MP-Kajiado West) and Peris Tobiko (MP-Kajiado East).
People of Kajiado County
The county has a population of 687,321 people (50.2% male and 49.8% female), according to the 2009 National Census. Kajiado was initially occupied by the Maasais but people from other Kenyan tribes as well as foreigners have since moved in.
The Maasai are nomadic cattle herders, although some members of this community practice subsistence agriculture. Maasais consider cattle a sacred gift from their god Enkai. The animals are a sign of wealth in the community and are often used in payment of dowry.
Other residents of Kajiado County include Kikuyu, Kalenjin, Ameru, Kamba, Luhyia and Luo among other tribes. Other people of foreign origin can also be found in Kajiado. Some have intermarried with the Maasais, others settled primarily to do business while some are employment by government and non-governmental organisations such as AMREF and ActionAid.
Religion and Traditional Culture
The Maasai are monotheistic, believing in a single deity, Enkai. The Maasai god has a dual nature: Enkai Narok (black god) who is charitable and Enkai Nanyokie (red god) who is unforgiving.
The belief in a single deity has seen most Maasai adopting Christianity. Today, about 85 per cent of the Kajiado residents are Christians with the remaining 5 per cent worshipping other religions such as Islam and Hindu.
Traditionally, Maasai women were tasked with building homes (manyattas), collecting firewood, preparing food, among other domestic chores, while men were left free to be warriors - defending their territories and cattle. The role of the children was to look after the livestock. However, this tradition has diminished over time and many Maasai children are now allowed to go to school.
The Maasai are renowned for their colourful dressing that consists of red shuka (light blankets), wrapped around the body and multi-coloured beaded jewellery worn around the necks and arms. The Maasai men are traditionally polygamous, while women are allowed to have intimate relationships with their husbands' age-mates so as to bring forth warriors.
Located on the slopes of Ngong hills, about 20km from Nairobi, Ngong is a well-developed suburb offering a quiet residing place for many of Nairobi workers. Ngong is a fast growing town with modern buildings, supermarkets, wholesale shops, petrol stations and other amenities that are being put up within the township.
Kajiado is the capital town of Kajiado County. The town is located about 80km south of Nairobi along the Nairobi-Arusha road. Kajiado is a flourishing trading centre where commodities such as spices, millet, beads, jewellery, sandals and clothing are traded.
An open-air market in Kajiado town, which opens on Wednesdays and Thursdays, is an ideal place to go shopping for vegetables, fruits, spices, millet and other commodities. It’s often a chaotic atmosphere as traders outdo each other to draw customers' attention.
Other major urban centres in Kajiado include Kitengela, Rombo, Loitokitok and Namanga. Rombo and Loitokitok are near the Tanzania border and they offer excellent views of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Climate and Weather
Kajiado County is primarily semi-arid. The average annual temperature in the county is 18.9°C. The area receives about 500mm of rainfall annually, most of it falling in April. The month of August is usually extremely dry.
Livestock rearing is a major economic activity in Kajiado county, providing a source of livelihood for many residents. Dairy farmers mainly sell their milk to neighboring hotels and households, with the surplus being sold in Nairobi. The county also provides a huge market for beef and goat meat, with over 2,000 animals being slaughtered daily for its market.
Although Kajiado's climate is not conducive for agriculture, a growing number of farmers in Kimana, Rombo and Entonet are engaged in irrigation farming to support subsistence crop farming. Crops that are grown under irrigation include kale, cabbages, onions, tomatoes, pepper, beans and maize. Other major economic activities in Kajiado county include tourism, particularly in the Amboseli National Park, commodity trading which is carried out both in shops and open-air markets, sand harvesting, quarrying and soda ash mining at Lake Magadi.
Although there are several hospitals and health centres in Kajiado county, the state of healthcare in the rural areas is in deplorable shape and residents walk for long distances to access medical facilities. However, international organisations such as AMREF are working to bring health care closer to the community. Some of the notable healthcare facilities in Kajiado include the Nairobi Women's Hospital (Kitengela), Kajiado District Hospital, Ngong Sub-District Hospital, Loitokitok District Hospital and Namanga Hospital among others.
Despite Kajiado having 198 primary schools as of 2013, the enrollment rates among the majority pastoralists in the county remains low. About 54,000 pupils are enrolled in Kajiado primary schools. There are 42 secondary schools in Kajiado County. Some of the top high schools include Maasai High School, Oloolaiser High School, Moi Girls Secondary School, Enoomatasiani Girls Secondary School, Dawamu Academy and Maasai Academy among others.
Professor George Saitoti was a respected mathematician who later became Kenya's sixth vice president and politician. He was the Member of Parliament for Kajiado North constituency for 24 years before meeting his death in a helicopter crash outside Nairobi in June 10, 2012.
Paul Tergat is a Kenyan long distance runner who held the world record in marathon from 2003-2007. He lives in Ngong town.
Peris Tobiko became the first Maasai woman to be elected Member of Parliament after she won the Kajiado East constituency in March 4, 2013.
Attractions and Places of Interest
Kajiado has several tourist attractions including the Amboseli National Park, Ngong Hills, Nyiri Desert, Lake Magadi and Olorgesailie Prehistoric Site.
Amboseli National Park is one of Kenya's most popular safari destinations. The park is located about 260km from Nairobi at the foot of mount Kilimanjaro. It offers rewarding opportunities to view African lions, elephants, zebras, hyena and other wild animals.
Located about 22km southwest of Nairobi, Ngong Hills are a popular weekend destination for visitors from Nairobi and beyond. There is a walking trail along the peaks of Ngong Hills - which offer a great walking safari experience. Athletes can be spotted in the mornings running up and down the slopes.
Nyiri Desert lies some 80km east of Lake Magadi between Amboseli, Tsavo West and Nairobi national parks. Parts of the desert, which is on the rain shadow of mount Kilimanjaro have dense growth of thorny trees that provide shelter to a sizeable population of elephant, rhino, leopard, lion, impala and other animals.
Lake Magadi which lies about 120km from Nairobi, is the most mineral-rich of the Rift Valley soda lakes. The lake offers a beautiful landscape and rewarding birdwatching opportunities.
Olorgesailie pre-historic site located about 70km from Nairobi, is said to be a camping site of early men. The site has an accumulation of human tools that were used about 200,000 years ago.
Travelling to Kajiado County
Road transport is the most convenient way to travel to and around Kajiado county. The Nairobi-Arusha road which cuts through Kajiado is the main transport corridor for the county. The road turns right off the Nairobi-Mombasa highway just after the southern edge of the Nairobi National Park. It connects with other small roads servicing the county's urban centres.
Matatus and buses to Kajiado are found at the Nairobi Railways station. Matatus number 110 goes to Kitengela, 126 to Kiserian and 129 to Rongai, while 129 goes to Namanga through Kajiado town. There is a railway station on the Magadi line, which runs from Magadi to Konza on the Mombasa line, but this line mainly operates cargo services.
Amboseli National Park offers some great luxury accommodation facilities. These include Kibo Villa, Kibo Safari Camp, Sentrim Camp, Kilima Safari Camp, Amboseli Sopa, Serena Safari Lodge, Tawi Lodge, Porini Camp and Ol Tukai among others.
Other accommodation options in Kajiado County include Masai Eco Lodge, Maasai Ostrich Resort, Swara Plains Acacia Camp, Osoita Lodge, Nairobi Tented Camp, Ngong House and Giraffe Manor.
Kajiado county is well serviced by major financial institutions. Banks such as Equity, KCB, Family Bank and others have branches, ATMs and Agencies in strategic locations around the county's major urban centres.
Kajiado County has numerous shopping facilities serving both residents and visitors. These include Tuskys, Uchumi and Naivas supermarkets - which have branches in Ongata Rongai. Other supermarkets include Garden and Tumaini supermarkets in Kajiado town, and Tuskeys and Naivas supermarkets in Ngong town. Maasai artefacts such as jewelry, shukas, sandals and rungus are readily available at several points along the Nairobi-Arusha road and along roads leading to tourist attractions.
TOP of the Kajiado County