When Nairobi land was sold for cents per square foot.
owning a piece of Nairobi’s Industrial Area for just Sh1,830, right next to the
road. What if the transaction was improved by the promise of getting all
adjoining plots for the same price?
is not fiction; it is the reality of how the colonial authority pushed for
Nairobi’s development within a year after Kenya became a colony.
July 4, 1923 declaration lay the groundwork for the current land craze in
Nairobi and other desirable sites surrounding major roads and railway
politically connected individuals with the governor’s direct connection might
gain access to hundreds of acres around Nairobi, land in the country’s capital
was still measured in human steps. Even back then, the government sold a square
foot for 24 cents (Sh0.244) and charged 4 cents per year in rent (Sh0.04 per
to the notice given, “The plots are being offered for the aim of
accommodating industries. A sufficient quantity will be created to
suit the needs of potential buyers.”
average plot size back then was 150 feet by 50 feet, but there was a
stipulation that “a purchaser shall be entitled to acquire such extra
plots as he may desire, each at the same price as the plot purchased, provided
that such additional plots shall adjoin.”
a buyer wins a bid for a plot but is unable to pay, he was blacklisted from
future sales. The grant was to begin on the first day of the month after the
sale, implying that the 99-year period was to begin on August 1, 1923.
as the government was handing out plots to well-heeled investors, elaborate
statutes were enacted to make Africans squatters on their own ancestral
property. This was the result of the government declaring much of the land as
royal land, which meant that regardless of whether it was occupied or not, it
could still be allocated to settlers and the original occupants may be
relocated. Africans living on such crown properties became tenants at will on
government land with the stroke of a pen.
then, a lot of water has gone beneath the bridge. The 99-year leases have
expired, and the majority of the properties have been sold. The roots of
discontent established by the biased land policy persist after more than half a
century as a free country.
of the well-industrial connected plots have already been developed.
Read full story here.