Inside South African city with Kenyan names like Kisumu, Nanyuki, Thika

Kenya and South Africa have a long history of cordial relations, from the time the latter did not gain independence until today. As such, South Africa has become the destination of choice for many Kenyans in search of greener pastures.

From those seeking higher education to those seeking employment, the country under the leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa is a favorite country and has become a second home for many.

South Africa and Kenya share a lot in common, including their history, which dates back to colonial times. However, in Johannesburg is a commercial and residential town that is nostalgic for most Kenyans, Sunninghill.

An aerial view of Sunninghill, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Four-way view

For Kenyans who live in Sunninghill, they drew parallels between the city and Nairobi’s central business district (CBD). The majority of the streets, roads and alleys are named after major towns, features and even the most remote trading centers in Kenya.

The longest routes are the Nanyuki, Naivasha, Tana, Kikuyu and Malindi routes. Other roads include Nakuru, Kisumu, Tana, Tiati, Embu, Kitui, Tambach, Nyeri, Diani, Kapiti, Kilindini, Watamu and Thika Roads.

Among the streets and alleys are Eldoret Street, Limuru Lane, Tudor Avenue, Baringo Street, Aruba Close, Kitale Close without forgetting the shopping centers Nakuru Manor, Baringo and Turkana.

“There is a Malindi, Kitui, Mirwani road which I suspect to be the Miwani, Turbo, Tambach road among others, it is comforting to walk the streets with these familiar names when away from home,” wrote Faith Koli.

Sunninghill has sparked excitement among Kenyans who have raised questions about how a town thousands of miles from Kenya could feel at home. Other Kenyans advance theories to explain the links between Nairobi and Johannesburg.

They claimed that most of the town’s first inhabitants were white settlers who fled Kenya in the 1960s and 70s after Kenya gained independence from British rule.

On the other hand, others attributed the ‘New Nairobi’ to the increased number of Kenyans who might have moved to the country in search of better opportunities, with some scoffing that Kenyans are known for their mentality business oriented.

It is not uncommon for such an event to be observed in some towns or villages in African countries. For example, there is a Kenyatta Market near Kenyatta Street in Enugu Nigeria, named after the founding father of Kenya, the late Jomo Kenyatta.

Back in Nairobi, some streets, alleys and roads are named after important people and places from Africa and around the world. Among them, Kenneth Kaunda, Haile Selassie, Kwame Nkurumah and Julius Nyerere

An undated photo of the Nairobi city skyline.

An aerial view of the Nairobi city skyline dated October 2020.

To file

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