Thika (pronounced [ˈθika]) is an industrial town in Central Province, Kenya, lying on the A2 road 40 kilometres (25 mi) north east of Nairobi, near the confluence of the Thika and Chania Rivers. Thika has a population of 200,000 and is growing rapidly, as is the entire greater Nairobi area. Its elevation is approximately 1,631 metres (5,351 ft).
Thika is home to the Chania Falls, 14 falls on river Athi and the Thika Falls, while Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park lies to its southeast. The town has a railway station but there is only limited passenger service with only cargo trains operating, although there are plans to extend the proposed light rail system to Thika.
The town is currently the headquarters of Thika West district following the split of the larger Thika district (created in 1994) into five districts: Thika East and Thika West, Ruiru, Gatundu and Gatanga. It is the seat of the South Central regional commissioner (deputy Provincial Commissioner) for Central Province appointed by president Mwai Kibaki in 2009 who is in charge of the larger Kiambu, Thika and Murang'a districts. However, under Kenya's new constitution, which recognizes only the 47 districts in existence before 1992 as semi-autonomous counties, Thika falls under Kiambu County. Although Kiambu Town is expected to be the new county headquarters, Thika should remain the main commercial centre.
The town is famous as the prime pineapple-growing region in Kenya, the Chania and Thika falls near the confluence of the respective rivers and as a gateway to the "Fourteen Falls" near Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park, which is used as a popular picnic and corporate recreation site. Thika is known as a centre for light industry, especially in food and horticulture processing. However, the decline of the textile industry has hit local firms such as Kenya Textile Mills (KTM), which was a cotton-to-fabric manufacturer that competed against Egyptian and Chinese manufacturers. Nevertheless, recent growth has been accentuated by the growth of the service sector, especially in education and finance.
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.
- 1 History
- 2 Economic activities
- 3 Geography
- 4 Climate
- 5 Local government
- 6 Universities and major colleges
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 External links
There are two explanations for the origin of the name Thika. One has it coming from the Kikuyu word Guthika, meaning "to bury". During a great drought, the Maasai people ventured outside of their normal territories looking for water for their huge herds of cattle. Two rivers pass through Kikuyu land, the Thika and the Chania, providing sustenance for the agricultural Kikuyu. With both tribes desperate for survival, they fought a bloody battle that left few survivors. A mound near Blue Posts Hotel supposedly marks where the slain warriors were buried. Thika was also used a memorial burial site for soldiers who fought in World War II.
The other theory claims it was derived from the Maasai word Sika meaning "rubbing something off an edge".
In addition, the area was inhabited by the Akamba tribe and hence was a border region between three communities.
Towards the end of the 19th century, outsiders began to settle in this outpost as a convenient resting spot between Nairobi and the upcountry highlands for British settlers. Europeans and Asians settled in Thika, the former setting up farms and the latter 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, commemorating 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 municipality when Kenya gained independence in 1963, and the first mayor was chosen 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 reinforced 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 have belonged to the first president, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
Thika is externally serviced by an eight-lane superhighway, a highway to Garissa and the rest of north-east Kenya, a highway to the central highlands and a railway line (with plans to add a passenger light rail to Nairobi). Internally, the town has a well-maintained road network.
The main economic activities include agricultural processing, particularly in horticulture and pineapple (exported mainly to Europe), coffee (exports mainly to the United States and Europe), cooking oils (to the rest of Kenya and eastern Africa) and animal feed processing. Other industries include textile (cotton), macadamia nuts, wheat, tannery, motor vehicle assemblies, cigarette manufacturing, bakeries, packaging and industrial chemicals. About 100 small-scale industries and about 20 major factories exist in and around the town. The service sector is well represented with the establishment and growth of a number of educational and financial institutions. Thika is home or close to three universities, tens of middle level colleges, hundreds of secondary and primary schools and dozens of financial institutions.
Thika has a bustling nightlife, modern recreation centres and significant retail trading operations. The growth of the greater Nairobi region and improved infrastructure and services has led to new residential estates.
Bidco Oil Refineries
Bidco oil Refineries, headquartered in Thika, is East Africa’s leading edible oil, soaps & detergents, margarine and baking powder marketer with more than 30 brands. A number of brands have majority market share in their domain. Some of their brands that are household names include (Edible Oils) Elianto, Sun Gold, Soya Gold, Olive Gold and Golden Fry; In the fats section Kimbo and Cowboy, Chipsy; in the Laundry Segment are Power Boy Pro Activ Liquid and Powder detergent, Gental, the Star Series soaps; The personal care segment include Pure n Natural Woman and Man; Margarines are Gold Band and Biddy’s and Mariandazi baking powder.
Backed by world class manufacturing units in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, the group is acknowledged as a market leader in edible oils and contributes substantially to the over-all growth of the East African Economy. The brand enjoys the confidence and trust over 100 million people across 15 countries in Africa. The group is led by widely acclaimed businessman, Vimal Shah. The group employs more than 4000 people directly and over 20,000 in the value chain. The group is present at every point along the edible oils value chain as it pursues the “Soil to Pan” philosophy. The plant at Thika employs more than 2000 people.
Del Monte is one of the world’s leading vertically integrated producers, marketers and distributors of fresh and fresh-cut fruit and vegetables, as well as a leading producer and distributor of prepared fruit and vegetables, juices, beverages, snacks and desserts in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Fresh Del Monte markets its fresh products worldwide under the Del Monte® brand, a symbol of product quality, freshness and reliability for more than 100 years.
Stone cutting industry and art works
|1||Delmonte Kenya Ltd.|
|2||Bidco Oil Refineries|
|3||Thika Coffee Mills|
|7||Chania Food Mills|
|12||United Textile Industries|
The town is located on a gentle plain before the ascent into the central highlands. Small valleys are on the western and northern edges following the Chania and Thika Rivers that have waterfalls and meet on the northwestern edge of Thika.
The climate is moderate tropical with sunshine most of the year round and typical average temperatures of 25°C during the day, with the hottest period in January and February leading to the long rains and the coldest in July. The "long rains" season lasts from March/April to May/June. The "short rains" season is from October to November/December.
The local government consists of a thirteen-member Municipal Council, with responsibilities for governmental functions delegated to appointed committees. The mayor is chosen from among the elected or nominated councillors for one-year terms. However, with the new constitution, the mayor will be directly elected by the populace for a five-year term starting in 2012. The council sets the policies and bylaws while the day-to-day running is managed by the town clerk seconded from the local government ministry.
Universities and major colleges
- Amboseli Institute
- Chania Boys High School
- Excel Institute of Professionals
- Gretsa University
- International Centre of Technology
- Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
- Kenya Institute of Management
- Mount Kenya University
- Reward Institute of Professional Studies
- St John Kilimambogo Teachers Training College
- Success Professionals Institute
- Thika College of Banking
- Thika Institute of Science and Technology
- Thika Technical Institute
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