Nairobi is a fast-paced bustling city with an ultra modern skyline. It is over a mile above sea level and has a temperate climate. It is one of the African Union's most important commercial centers, and is the largest city between Johannesburg and Cairo. It is also unique among cities because of its proximity to popular wildlife parks. Nairobi park on the outskirts of the city covers an areas of 114 sq. km. and is famous for lions. The city is famous for art and crafts markets. Moreover, many people in Nairobi like to wear traditional styles and Maasai morans (warriors) stralling through the financial district are popular with everyone. The city has a very refreshing "safari" feel to it.
View from Nairobi national wildlife park
Nairobi city is cosmopolitan with theme parks, churches, synagogues, temples and mosques and a large international community. It has the head quarters of many international organizations including the United Nations Environment Program, World Health Organization, multinational businesses and foreign embassies that cover central and eastern Africa. Nairobi has retained most of its original flavor. The inhabitants are warm and helpful. The city offers every modern comfort. Nairobi has five star hotels and international class hotels e.g. The New Stanley Hotel, Nairobi Hilton, Inter-Continental Hotel, Nairobi Serena are just a few.
Nairobi offers a superb variety of restaurants in every price range. According to our latest bi-annual statistic, there are over 250 diverse cafes, restaurants, and snack bars offering a choice of more than 20 diverse cuisines. While in Nairobi, one can try some of the international renowned restaurants; a gastronomical treat at Carnivore is an ideal spot for meat lovers.
The city takes its name from the Maasai name for the area, Uaso Nyirobi which means 'the place of sweet waters'. It is one of Africa's largest financial centres. Many international firms as well as large African corporations and NGOs have their head offices in Nairobi. The UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme) has its head office in Nairobi.
Founded in 1899 as a railway town, Nairobi blossomed into an urban centre to become the headquarters of the Uganda Railway (UR), and increasingly attracted commerce and migrant African labourers from all over Africa. Nairobi is remarkable for its mild weather throughout the year, with temperatures between a low of 11 degress centigrade and a high of 24 degrees. From 1899 to 1905 Nairobi served as a British provincial capital in British East Africa. At the end of the British Occupation in 1963, Nairobi became the capital city of the state of Kenya, as well as the financial capital of the East African Community. During the 1970s Nairobi grew rapidly and became one of Africa’s leading regional centres.
Among the first African pioneers to established themselves here was a heterogeneous Swahili-speaking community from Tanzania and the Kenyan coast. These were mostly ex-askaris (soldiers and police) and porters who had been recruited by the British during the colonisation of Africa.
These migrants established the first African suburbs in Nairobi known as Mji wa Mombasa, Pangani, Kileleshwa and Pumwani. They intermarried with the locals and earned their living working for Europeans as cooks, gardeners, farm supervisors (nyapara), wage labourers, and as gun bearers for various game-hunting companies. Others set themselves up as landlords letting rooms to new migrants while supplementing their meagre incomes through petty trading
These early coastal pioneers were later joined by other migrants from all over eastern Africa who come in search of new opportunities, jobs and adventure. The Waswahili were, however, by the beginning of World War I outnumbered by hundreds of Nubian soldiers, Somali cattle traders, Nyamwezi and Digo porters, and Kikuyu, Kalenjin and Maasai camp-followers. Migrants from nearby Kikuyuland, Ukambani, and western Kenya flocked into Nairobi in large numbers looking for employment.
Scarcity of land pressured people to migrate from the Africans reserves to work in towns or in colonial settlers' farms in the Rift Valley and the Kenya Highlands. By the end of the war, Nairobi had eight African villages (miji) where most of the town's 12,000 Africans lived: Pangani, Maskini, Mombasa, Kaburini, Kariokor, Kileleshwa, Kibera and Pumwani. Pumwani, founded in 1921, was the largest of these "locations" followed by Pangani, the oldest village in the history of urban Nairobi.
The Digo, Nyamwezi, Manyema, and Bajuni strongly influenced the Swahili culture that emerged in Nairobi. The Nairobi Swahili-speaking community borrowed substantially from customs, habits, practices, and diets of the ethnic groups of the interior that were to embrace Islam during this formative period. An amalgam culture thus emerged heavily influenced by Islam; Kiswahili became the first language of the migrants' second generation; and coastal Swahili practices, their main cultural inspiration.