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Karatina is a town in Nyeri County, Kenya. It hosts a municipal council and the headquarters of Mathira East district. Karatina municipality has a total population of 6,852, all classified as urban (1999 census[1]). It has six electoral wards, all in the Mathira Constituency; the remaining five wards of Mathira constituency represent Nyeri County Council.[2]

Karatina is on the NairobiNyeri highway, 20 kilometres southeast of Nyeri town and south of Mount Kenya. It is at an elevation of 1868 metres. Karatina has a thrice-weekly fresh fruit and vegetable market which is currently being renovated and modernised.

Karatina also has a university college that is part of Moi University, 14 kilometers from the Nairobi-Nyeri highway on the slopes of Mount Kenya. There are two major hospitals in Karatina, the government-funded Karatina General Hospital and the private Jamii Hospital. In addition, PCEA TumuTumu Hospital [1] is a few miles west of Karatina.

History of Karatina[edit]

The name Karatina is a diminutive term for "Muratina" – the name of a squash/courgette tree. The town was founded before the British Colonization of Kenya by Gikuyu women who used to trade their crafts and food under a courgette (muratina) tree. Women would direct each other on where to sell or buy merchandise under the Karatina.

Mathira means "harvest for me". Women from the area would be heard in the market sending each other to harvest something from their farms. The British would hear "Mathira (this and that)" and they thought that was the name of the place.[citation needed]

Karatina and the Kenyan Independence Struggle[edit]

Like many areas around Mount Kenya, Karatina was a hot-bed of the Mau Mau independence struggle. Many Karatina residents have real-life memories and have passed on the history of the sufferings meted upon the society during the independence struggle. Being close to the Mount Kenya, the Mau Mau fighters would leave the forests and come to find food in the villages created by the colonialists and many residents will vividly tell of the tricks they used to feed the Mau Mau.[citation needed] Most of the elderly men from this locality were in detention during the Mau Mau reprisals as the authorities feared they would rebel.

Dedan Kimathi, the Mau Mau leader, came from Aguthi, less than fifteen miles from Karatina. To best understand the resistance to colonial rule, find out directly from Karatina people or watch the "End of the Empire" documentary. Read Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya, by Caroline Elkins[3] Regardless of the suppression, Karatina had its own share of Colonial collaborators. The sons of colonial chiefs were the beneficiaries of the first independent Kenya Government as was the case in the rest of the country.


The town lies on a plateau directly below the southern side of Mount Kenya. It is fed by radially flowing streams running from Mount Kenya towards the lower slopes of the mountain that are marked by the river Tana, the longest river in Kenya. There are many beautiful inter-locking spurs, rapids and caves in the streams in this area. The sky-line is intercepted by hills and steep slopes.

River Tana originates from Mount Kenya and meanders through several counties in Kenya's Central and Eastern region emptying its waters into the Indian Ocean. Its waters have been harnessed for the Kindaruma Hydro-Electricity Power Station downstream. Its waters hosts numerous tropical marine fauna and varied ecosystem ending in a delta at the coast.

You are likely to see some of the most beautiful small scale tea, coffee, dairy and horticultural farms around Karatina. The area has some of the best view points of Mount Kenya and the Aberdare Ranges.

Tourist areas of interest

Nyeri Town and the cemetery of Scout movement; the Tree Tops and Arks Game Viewing are all less than half an hour to the west of Karatina. Mount Kenya Safari Club is less than fifty miles from Karatina. Karatina is only one and half hours away from Nairobi City.

Karatina Culture[edit]

Karatina is essentially an agricultural community with one of the most educated populations in the country. It also has some of the most well established community built primary and Secondary schools. Tumu Tumu and Bishop Gatimu Girls Schools have high reputations nationally. All Boys High Schools including the most reputed were all community developed through the Harambee movement. Harambee means "all pull together" in Swahili.

The Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) and Catholic e.g. Karatina catholic church are the main religious faiths but Karatina also is the home of a very strong African Independent Church. Antioch Independent Baptist Churches also have a strong presence with their Headquarters in Karatina.

Languages spoken are predominantly Kikuyu, Swahili and English. Even in the most rural areas any of these languages can be used as even the average farm worker has been at least to primary (elementary) school.

Commuters use car, bicycle, motorbike and foot even though there is a rail service from the City and Nanyuki Town. It is an area with steep slopes, with some areas at almost 80 degrees gradient.

Karatina Market[edit]

Karatina Market is reputed to be the largest open market in sub-Saharan Africa. The market is currently dismantled for renovation. It is expected to be reopened soon.

In April 2009 over 20 people died in the Mathira Massacre when alleged members of the Mungiki sect attacked local residents.[4]


Karatina University was established as a public university in Kenya through the award of Charter on 1 March 2013. Situated 15km North off Karatina town.

This institution started in 2007 as Mount Kenya Campus of Moi University. It had succeeded a Tea Training institute. In 2010 it became Karatina University College, a Constituent College of Moi University. Finally, in 2013, Karatina University was awarded a Charter.

The University has five Academic Schools namely: Agriculture & Biotechnology; Business; Education & Social Sciences; Natural Resources & Environmental Studies; Pure & Applied Sciences.

Campuses in Kagochi (Main), Nyeri town, Karatina town, Itiati and Nanyuki.[5]

Middle Level Colleges[edit]



  • Karindundu Primary School
  • D.E.B. Chehe (Forest) School
  • Kiamwangi Primary School
  • Kiarithaini Primary School
  • D.E.B. Primary School
  • Mathaithi Primary School
  • Gikumbo Primary school
  • Gatondo Primary School
  • Gatundu Primary School
  • Gathaithi Primary School
  • Gathugu Primary School
  • Gatina Primary School
  • Giakabei Primary School
  • Gikororo Primary School
  • Hombe D.E.B. Primary School
  • Kibira
  • Icuga Primary School
  • Ihiga Primary School
  • Ihwagi Primary School
  • Unjiru Primary school
  • Kanjuri Primary School
  • Kiangurwe Primary School
  • Kianjeneni primary school
  • Kiamabara Primary School
  • Kieni Primary School
  • Itiati primary school
  • Itundu Primary School
  • Kahuru Primary School
  • Kariki Primary School
  • Kihuro primary school
  • Magutu Primary School
  • Miiri Primary School
  • Ngandu primary
  • Ngandu Boys Primary School
  • Gathogorero primary school
  • kabiru-ini primary school
  • Future Leaders Academy
  • Kanjuri Primary School
  • Kangocho Primary School
  • Kiangoma Primary School
  • Tumutumu Primary School
  • Ngurumo Primary School
  • Kahuti-ini Primary School
  • Ndima-ini Primary School
  • Kiangi Primary school
  • Rititi Primary school
  • Ragati Primary School
  • Gacuiro Primary school
  • Ngaini Primary school
  • Rising Star Academy
  • Unjiru Primary School
  • Kirigu Primary School


  • Kagumo High School
  • Tumu Tumu Girls' High School
  • Tumutumu School for the Deaf
  • Tumu Tumu Hospital Nursing School
  • Kiangoma secondary school
  • Kiamabara Secondary School
  • Kiarithaini Secondary School
  • Karatina Secondary School
  • Pan African Girls' School
  • Mathaithi Secondary School
  • Kirimara Secondary School
  • Gatondo Girls Secondary School
  • Gikumbo Secondary School
  • Bishop Gatimu Ngandu Girls High School
  • Kangocho Secondary School
  • Kirimara High school
  • Pan-African girls school
  • Mount Carmel girls Gathugu
  • Kanjuri High School
  • Ruthagati Secondary School
  • Itundu Secondary school
  • Icuga Girls' Secondary School
  • General China Secondary School
  • Rititi Secondary School
  • Kabiruini Girls' Secondary School
  • Ngorano Secondary School
  • Kiamariga Secondary School
  • Kiamwangi Secondary School
  • Ngunguru secondary school
  • Kanyama secondary school
  • Kianjogu secondary school
  • Ngaiini secondary school
  • Hiriga secondary school


Jamii hospital is the leading private healthcare provider for residents of karatina and its environs, including and not limited to kirinyaga county, muranga county, and the wider nyeri county. It is located in saigoni area, along kuguru road, just off the nyeri-nairobi highway at oil libya. It has state of the art laboratory services, x-ray/ultrasound services, physiotherapy services, counselling services, theatre services, dental services and inpatient services. There are 2 doctors stationed permanently, various specialist clinics. and a very friendly and caring nursing staff. it is the healthcare provider of choice for most insurance companies in the region. The prices are very affordable and it remains the hospital of choice for most nyeri residents. Karatina district hospital is the government owned facility located a few metres from jamii hospital and despite the numerous challenges that face government owned facilities, it does its best at providing good healthcare. It also has the modern equiped ambulance for ferrying critical patients to referral Hospitals. P.C.E.A Tumutumu mission Hospital-Level 4 Hospital is also leading health institution. next to Karatina District Hospital. The Hospital has modern laboratory & well trained lab personnel. It has a well equipped Theatre and the best maternity services in the region. On 25.03.2015 The hospital is launching the new modern School which will accommodate several courses- Clinical medicine, Med Laboratory science, Nursing, Pharmacy among others.


Coordinates: 0°28′54″S 37°07′30″E / 0.4817°S 37.1251°E / -0.4817; 37.1251