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“When Elspeth Huxley’s pioneer father buys a remote plot of land in Kenya, the family sets off to discover their new home: five hundred acres of Kenyan scrubland, infested with ticks and white ants, and quavering with heat. What they lack in know-how they make up for in determination: building a grass house, employing local Kikuyu tribe members and painstakingly transforming their patch of wilderness into a working farm”. These are the words that summarizes the book titled “the flame trees of Thika.”

Recently there have been talks of reviewing county boundaries and splitting populous counties such as Kiambu and Nakuru to create new counties and help realize the objects of devolution. But how did we get ourselves in the situation we find ourselves in. 

While trying to understand the history I came across an article done by Nation Historian journalist John Kamau (Sunday Nation) 1st September 2013 and updated on July 5 2020. I also reviewed some historical records at the Thika District headquarters and other quarters. This article is a summary of the review;

Thika existed historically as a resting place that was used by Kamba and Kikuyu traders, it was at that time a small African village. Around 1910 the white settler farmers were using it as a train stopover for European Big game hunters.

The first known trader to set up shop in Thika was a man called Jamal Hirji Ojami, his store was located North of Chania River near the intersection of Thika River, where Blue Post Hotel is today located. It was not until after the second world war that Thika Town began to grow out of its “bush state” as immortalized by Elspeth Huxley in the “Flame Trees of Thika”. By this time Thika was part of Nairobi County Council.

The colonial government had curved out an area known as Thika District. And because the area was located between Kiambu and Murang'a District, the colonial government wanted to see the areas occupied by white settlers administered separately, the District was curved out to include big farms that extended to parts of Machakos, Murang'a  and Kiambu. This meant that parts of Kiharu Constituency in Murang'a was administered in Thika District and part of Gatundu was in the Thika Administrative District.

At that time the Kiambu and Murang'a county councils had asked the colonial Government to clear these anomalies but the colonial government would hear none of that, and nothing was done.

Records show that Thika formally existed as a district between 1933 until 1966. On 1st January 1933 the colonial Government posted a District commissioner by the name A.W Sutchliffe, but he only served for three months and was replaced by I.R. Gillispie on 7th March the same year. The colonial DCs administered Thika District between 1933 until 18th February 1964 when R.E Alai as posted. C.K Kisaka as the last DC posted between 31st July 1964 and lasted until 1966 when the politics of identity found their way in Parliament.

But in 1953 Thika Town had managed to severe its connections with Nairobi County Council and had formed its own Urban District Council. Five factories had already been established and Thika was beginning to grow into an industrial hub. Thika had its own schools and by 1941 a cottage hospital (today Thika Level 5 Hospital) had been set up to attend to health needs of Native Africans and Asians who had settled in Thika as early as the beginning of the century.


The Boundaries commission had created a boundary anomaly and placed the boundary between Kiambu and Muranga districts at River Chania. They also had created a district called Thika which had one foot in Murang'a and the other foot in Kiambu.  

In 1966 the then member of parliament for Kandara constituency Bildad Mwaganu Kaggia revisited the boundary issue of Thika and sought to end the identity crisis of Thika District in what seemed to be a supremacy political battle between Kiambu and Murang'a. 

His motion read in part;-

“That in view of the present confusion and overlapping of authority between the Murang’a County Council and Thika Administration in the former Thika District, which is now part and parcel of the Murang’a County, this House urges the government to remove the confusion by extending the Murang’a district commissioner’s jurisdiction to the whole of Murang’a County area and to restrict the jurisdiction of Thika district commissioner to Thika municipality, and to introduce such legislation for amendment of the Constitution as may be necessary for that purpose.”

“We were tolerating this state of affairs during the colonial times, but we cannot expect it to continue after independence,” added Bildad Kaggia.

He argued in parliament that it made no sense that “just a small ‘European’ area should be made a district by itself”.

When the then minister of state Hon James Nyamweya, MP for Nyaribari rose to speak in parliament he admitted that there were administrative problems but suggested to change the Motion by Bildad Kaggia to read; 

“That in view of the present overlapping between Murang’a County Council and Thika Administration in the former Thika District, which is now part and parcel of the Murang’a County, this House urges the government to remove the overlapping jurisdiction between the Murang’a County Council and Thika District Administration and to introduce such legislation as may be necessary for that purpose.”

The motion was passed in February 1966 and just like that Thika District ceased to exist. The jurisdiction was taken over by Kiambu and Murang'a District Commissioners. Thika residents sent delegations to President Moi before and at the onset of multiparty politics in the late 80s and early 90s but It was not until 1994 when Thika was elevated from a division of Kiambu given back its status as a district that included Gatundu (North and South), Ruiru, Juja, and Gatanga.

In the run up to the 2010 constitutional Referendum, politics was at play again and the District and provinces act No.5 of 1992 was used to arrive at the number of the 47 counties, being the districts identified by the 1992 act. This was the original sin, they failed to recognize that Thika District had existed by 1933, many years before some of those districts that were given county status. 

Today, Thika continues to wallow in position and identity crisis. It’s about time the former Larger Thika District is separated from Kiambu County and given its own County Government. All rise… Ladies and gentlemen..

Behold Thika County Government.

Juma Hemedi M

Social Scientist, Community Leader


  1. Thank you Juma for the enlightenment and history of Thika.
    Good work!

  2. A time has come, Indeed!
    Thika County Government.

  3. Thanks for this information it's a high time we have our own county.congrats for this in deed Ur a proud thika leader


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