After hearing so much about it, there was no way I was going to go to Kenya and not visit Kitui. It’s a small town about 110 miles east of Nairobi. It used to be the capital of the Kitui District in Eastern Province of Kenya, but with the current political reforms, Kitui is now the headquarters of Kitui County, which covers a larger area than the former district did.
Kitui town had a population of 13,244 in 1999, but has grown substantially since this. According to the local Non-Governmental Organization KICABA, there are now about 60,000 living in the city, whereas 1,000,000 if you include the outskirts. A large majority of the residents belong to the Kamba, a Bantu people. The Kamba of Kenya speak the Bantu Kamba language (Kikamba) as a mother tongue, and are considered as friendly and welcoming people.
Although most of the sights are located in the outskirts of town, Kitui is a busy trading center, its streets lined with arcaded shops. Every Monday and Thursday is a market day. All sorts of vegetables can be bought, in addition to goats, hens and sometimes even cows.
The two major secondary schools are Kitui High School and St. Charles Lwanga Boys High School. For girls, there is Mulango Girls High and St. Angelas High. Other secondary schools are Tungutu, Chuluni, Changwithya Boys, Matinyani and Katulani Mixed Secondary School.
Most importantly, though, Kitui is where Nduku’s family is from, and we were visiting her grandparents. The ride there alone exceeded my expectations. For whatever reason I thought Kitui was in a region that was dry, flat, dusty with nothing much to see. Instead, I learn, the area is extremely lush and green, it’s hilly as we climbed up and down massive hills and mountains, it’s a scenic ride, especially if you’re from America where everything is overdeveloped or abandoned along the east coast.
Kitui, though, isn’t quite the business center like Nairobi. Though it’s now hosts the headquarters for Kitui County, the center of town is ripe for renovation. You can see where the development is coming to accommodate the people coming because of the reforms, but it’s taking a little longer “downtown.”
Kitui also has a large Muslim population, relative to other towns in Kenya outside of the coast. It also is an area perfectly situated where hotels do well from travelers going back and forth from Mt. Kenya and Mombasa. With the increase in government activity in the area, hotels are renovating, being built and preparing to cash in.
Maybe we’ll build a hotel in the future.