Thika, Kenya

Thika

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Location of Thika in Kenya

Thika is northeast of Nairobi, toward Mount Kenya (click map to enlarge)

Thika is a market town in Central Province, Kenya, lying on the A2 road 40 km north east of Nairobi, and on the Thika River. Thika has a population of 88,265 (1999 census)[1]and is growing rapidly, like the entire greater Nairobi area. The elevation of Thika is 1531 meters (5026 feet) in altitude.[2]

Thika, Kenya is home to the Chania Falls and the Thika Falls, while Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park lies to its south east. The town has a railway station, but there is only limited passenger service. The town is headquarters of the Thika District. The district is the prime pineapple-growing region in Kenya.

Thika is close to “Fourteen Falls” which is a popular picnic site.

Thika was formerly a center for light industry, but the focus has shifted to the Athi River. The decline of the textile industry has hit local firms, including Thika Cloth Mills (TCM), which is a cotton to fabric manufacturer that competes against Egyptian & Chinese manufacturers.

The Flame Trees of Thika (Memories of an African Childhood) is a book by Elspeth Huxley, later adapted for television by Euston Films for Thames Television. It describes the life of English settlers in the “White Highlands” in Edwardian times. A flame tree turns entirely reddish orange in June each year, depending on the previous rainfall.

History of Thika

There are two explanations for the name Thika. One has its origin in the Kikuyu word Guthika, meaning to bury. During a great drought, the Maasai ventured outside of their normal territories looking for water for their huge herds of cattle. Two rivers pass through Kikuyuland, River Thika and Chania, both providing sustenance for the agricultural Kikuyu. With this water in contention, and both tribes desperate for survival, they fought a bloody battle that left few survivors. A mound near Blue Posts Hotel supposedly is where the dead warriors were buried.

The other explanation come 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 Nairobiand 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 the government gazette in 1924. Thereafter it was elevated to a second class municipality when Kenya gained independence in 1963, and the first Mayor was enthroned in 1968.

The town has historical sites like the Mugumo Gardens which is named for the giant fig tree where the ancient legendary seer “Mugo wa Kibiro” prophesied. Believers claim that all of his prophesies have come to pass. According to legend, the fall of the tree would symbolise the fall of British rule in Kenya. The British Government re-inforced the tree to prevent it from falling, but it split into two parts and fell in two stages in 1963. This Land is said to belong to the first president Mzee Jomo Kenyatta Who Get it all to himself.

 Thika is externally serviced by a dual carriage way to Nairobi, a highway to Garissa and also a railway line. Internally, the town has a well-maintained road network. The economic activities of the town include agriculture, particularly in the horticulture (exports mainly to Europe) and coffee industry (exports mainly to the USA and Europe). Other industries include textile (cotton), food processing (pineapples, macadamia nuts, wheat), tannery, motor vehicle assemblies and cigarette manufacturing. About one hundred small scale industries and about twenty major factories exist in and around the town.

Thika also has a bustling nightlife, ultra-modern recreational centers, including Thika Arcardes.

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