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How Kilimani lost its allure – Photos, Video

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A poster advertising massage services at the intersection between Gitanga Road, where Lavington ends, and Ole Odume Road where Kilimani begins, shows just how low the upper middle class estate has sunk over years.

At face value, the poster — and there are many of those dotting roads, public clocks and apartment walls in Kilimani — gives the impression of booming demand for massage services or cut-throat competition among providers.

The reality, however, is that the word ‘massage’ is a euphemism for something else — sex work. And you don’t have to go too far to establish this.

Just dial the numbers provided or visit the online pages advertised on the posters and you will stumble on what could be Nairobi’s most thriving underground prostitution industry.

Curious children

A Kilimani resident, Mwihaki Muraguri, at one point caused an uproar on social media when in a series of tweets, she confronted authorities demanding to know whether they were aware of the booming sex work industry in the area.

This is after her children asked her while on their way to school what a massage meant.

“Last week on my daily route, four signs went up on this roundabout advertising a ‘spa’. My nine-year-old son asked me ‘what’s a massage spa?’ Every day he and the 300 primary kids who walk this route must contend with this,” said Mwihaki.

“We both know they are not a conventional spa but cater to adults seeking joy. Given that every public advertisement in my city is licenced by the Nairobi County Government, why are we allowing our children a daily visual assault of services that have nothing to do with them?” she posed.

A photo showing a section of Kilimani.

Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

That prostitution is rife in Nairobi has never been in doubt. In fact, sex work has thrived in Nairobi since time immemorial, earning roads like Koinange Street the dubious distinction of being a one-stop shop for sex.

What worries many Nairobi residents, however, is the growing trend of twilight girls moving away from streets, night clubs, bars and lodges into the estates.

And in Kilimani, many standalone houses and apartments have been converted to brothels.

“It is not that these things are happening in secret. Everyone, including the police, know about the prostitution taking place here but they look the other way,” Kevin Opala, a resident, laments.

“I pity the children who are being brought up here,” he adds.

Modern-day slavery?

Unknown to these residents and perhaps even the police is that along with the booming underground sex trade industry in Kilimani, modern-day slavery is thriving in tandem with the prostitution.

The shadowy players, faced by cutthroat competition amongst themselves,  force the girls they employ at these brothels to not only work long hours but also prohibit them from leaving the premises at all.

Once signed up to the trade, as the Nation found out, the identity cards of the girls are swiftly confiscated.

They are then cramped in one of the bedrooms where they live for as long as they are working. They are only allowed one day off per month. Any time they leave the premises is presumed to be an outcall and a demand for money made will be made by the owner of the brothel.

“I will have to pay the boss Sh10,000 if I leave here unless it’s my off day,” a masseuse in one of the spas told this writer.

Prostitution remains outlawed in Kenya. The Penal Code, however, also makes it illegal to profit from the sex work of others, and to aid, abet, compel or incite prostitution. This includes operating brothels.

But if you thought that the booming underground sex trade being carried out in plain sight of young children in Kilimani is its biggest problem, then you have barely scratched the surface.

Gangland

In the last two years, the estate bounded by Valley Road to the east, Denis Pritt Road to the north, Ngong Road to the south, and Korosho Road to the west has earned itself an unenviable title of being Nairobi’s gangland capital.

Today, barely two months will pass before a macabre murder or bizarre incident is reported in Kilimani. On Thursday, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) is expected to return to court and explain if it has found out who killed Sheila Murage last month within the area.

Ms Murage’s body was discovered last month in a flower bed at Santonia Court after an overnight party with her friends on July 17.

Santonia Court on Kirichwa lane, Kilimani on July 22, 2020.

Milimani Chief Magistrate Martha Mutuku released the three suspects linked to her death on a Sh100,000 bond or Sh50,000 cash bail each.

An autopsy report indicated that she suffered head injuries inflicted by a blunt object and was sexually assaulted before she was killed. The body also had physical injuries on the back and blood was oozing from her nose when she was found. There were also bruises around her wrist and her clothes were torn.

“The court directs the suspects to report to the Kilimani Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) every Monday until August 28, when the case will be mentioned for further directions to be given,” Chief Magistrate Mutuku.

How it changed

Kilimani wasn’t always like this though. Once among the city’s posher suburbs with exclusive low-density residentials loved by senior civil servants, the middle class and the rich, the neighbourhood’s deterioration can be traced to one major event.

Changes began in 2016 when the Nairobi County Assembly passed a motion allowing the construction of commercial centres and high rise apartments in upmarket neighbourhoods.

Under the new law, affected were areas classified under Zones 4, which comprises Spring Valley, Riverside Drive, Kileleshwa, Kilimani, Thompson and Woodley.

What followed was a rush to bring down the remaining 1950s bungalows to make way for modern multi-storey apartments and office blocks.

At first, most of these new apartments tried to keep the original aura of wealth and exclusivity associated with the neighbourhood by having spacious homes with large beautiful balconies, lifts where necessary, health clubs and swimming pools.

Over time, the area became popular with expatriates and upwardly mobile young professionals with good incomes due to its proximity to the Nairobi CBD and good housing.

 A newly constructed complex in Kilimani, Nairobi on August 25, 2020.

Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

But at some point, developers stopped paying attention to maintaining a certain aesthetic.

Apart from beautiful homes, well-paved roads and dots of green spaces, Kilimani is also home to one of Nairobi’s oldest shopping malls; Yaya Centre, and The Junction.

And with rents starting from about Sh50,000, today, anyone who has a good income but cannot afford to buy or build a house aspires to live in Kilimani.

The ‘Kilimani criminal’

Somewhere along the way, nouveau riche criminals have trooped in and turned it into their playing ground.

The typical Kilimani criminal, however, does not waylay people on the street and shake them down for money, hijack a vehicle or rob a bank.

He tends to be white-collar, tech-savvy, and is well connected with the police.

He also has a licenced firearm courtesy of his connections and is an expert in money laundering.

He probably also dresses quite well presents great outward image, but don’t be fooled. He is also extremely ruthless if you stand in his way.

Last weekend’s murder of Kevin Omwenga over a suspected fake gold deal gone sour is just the latest example that betrays the existence of this criminal ‘community’.

Mr Omwenga, 28, was a car dealer whose fortunes suddenly changed after he quit his job and joined a syndicate of gold swindlers.

Galana Suites in Kilimani, Nairobi where Kelvin Omwenga was shot last week.

An autopsy performed on Monday confirmed that Mr Omwenga had been shot at close range, even as the suspects tried to distance themselves from what is so far being treated as a murder.

Two of Mr Omwenga’s friends, Chris Obure and Robert Bodo, are being investigated as the key suspects.

Chief government pathologist Johansen Oduor said the bullet was shot at close range from a higher trajectory. This means that either the killer was taller than Mr Omwenga — who was standing at the time he was shot — or that he may have been sitting down.

“The bullet came out through his back on the left side after going through the vital organs including the heart. What killed him were the injuries,” said Dr Oduor.

Kilimani turns into Nairobi gang capital

“It looks like someone who died instantly. When the heart is injured, you have very little chance of survival.”

Chris Philip Obure (centre) and his co-accused Robert John Ouko Bodo (right) leaving Kibera Law Courts escorted by security officers on August 25, 2020. The Court allowed police to detain the two for 12 days to complete investigations into the shooting and killing of Kevin Ombati Omwenga at Galana Suites, Kilimani on August 21, 2020.

Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

The syndicate of gold swindlers that Omwenga is suspected to have joined has become a major headache for local law enforcement agencies. Despite dozens of arrests carried out in the area over the last one year, the circumstances around the killing of Mr Omwenga show that the trade is still booming in Kilimani.

The con game continues

Apart from the fact that most of those engaged in the fake gold trade live in Kilimani, they also run offices in the area. Here, unsuspecting foreigners are duped into paying clearance fees for a mineral which Kenya does not produce on an industrial scale.

The fact that those arrested for plying the fake gold trade are only charged with obtaining money by false pretence, which is largely considered a felony that allows one to get a cash bail, enables them to continue conning people while their cases continue in court.

Operating side by side with fake gold traders within Kilimani are money launderers and cybercriminals.

For instance, the owners of two of Nairobi’s popular posh night clubs — Kiza Lounge and B Club, also located in the area at Galana Plaza, have in the past found themselves in trouble with law enforcement agencies over alleged criminal activities.

Galana plaza in Kilimani.

Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Mr Ali Omarou, the Nigerien owner of Kiza Lounge, was only recently allowed to come back to Kenya by the courts after being deported last year over his involvement in suspected criminal activities.

While deporting him in September last year, the Interior Ministry said Mr Omarou was “on an international criminal list for various serious crimes.”

High Court Judge James Makau, however, ruled that “Mr Ali is a diplomat and is therefore immune to arrest and deportation in the manner done last year.”

Mr Barry Ndegeye, the Rwandan owner of B Club, has also been arrested before for money laundering in Belgium but escaped to Rwanda before resurfacing in Nairobi in 2015 to start a night club.

A petty offender helps in carrying foodstuff at Kilimani Police Station on May 21, 2020.

File | Nation Media Group

by nation.co.ke

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Optiven Foundation Spreads hope to the vulnerable Amidst Covid Pandemic

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As we gear towards alleviate poverty levels in our society, the Optiven Foundation has reached out to support
FLOMINA children’s home. Located in Nairobi’s Soweto area, the home was the recipient of assorted food stuffs including cereals, pulses and vegetable oil.

More than 65 vulnerable children some who are orphaned , abandoned or living with HIV & AIDs, got reasons to smile courtesy of Optiven Foundation.

As the eyes on the community, the Foundation’s desire is to transform & improve the livelihood of the vulnerable families in our society. This is by offering them support that includes basic food stuff. We thank all those who support the optiven vision of economically and socially empowering the communities

How to Easily Partner & Be a Philanthropist TODAY

1. Support a deserving needy person.
Mpesa Paybill: 898 630.
Account name: Donation

2. https://web.facebook.com/pg/optivenfoundation/reviews ( like our page & drop a comment) if a beneficiary, drop us a review & rate us

For more information reach us on +254 718 776 033 or info@optivenfoundation.org | www.optivenfoundation.org

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What is happening in Amani Ridge the Place of Peace

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Amani Ridge the place of Peace is giving you an opportunity to build your home in a serene, scenic and natural environment.

It remains unparalleled facility with top notch value additions. Perimeter wall, razor wire,solar street lights, a welcoming landscaping work with a beautiful fountain and now a cabro- paved entry to 300 stunning homes to-be.

To become a part of this neighborhood, ensure that you or your friend book soonest from the 23
1/4 acre plots remaining.

Call us now:
0790300300 or 0723400500
Website: www.optiven.co.ke

Experience the difference

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Safe rides: Introducing the all-female taxi

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Say you are a woman, it is 11pm and you need a taxi ride urgently. You may have heard horrendous stories of female passengers in a male driven taxi that makes you recoil and opt to cancel the ride, but you need it, and you are alone.

Getting in the taxi, worry knocks and you start having wild ideas of your escape plan, just in case. You check the child lock and confirm that your phone is charged, before sending a screenshot of your taxi details to a friend – if anything happens, they will have a clue of where to start.

Will it be comforting to say that you are not alone?

This comfort factor for women is in a female chauffeured taxi called An Nisa, a taxi company whose vehicles only carry women and children, limited to pre-teen male.

Fellow women

“I wanted a taxi service that would make women feel comfortable throughout their journey. Women are more maternal and women feel more comfortable being driven by fellow women,” says  Khawlah Habib, founder of An Nisa.

An Nisa, which means women in the Arabic language, is a solution to women and mothers who may have had insecurities when they use other taxi services.

Whilst the analogy of prevention being better than cure is mostly used in medicine, Ms Habib says it perfectly fits her idea of having a female passenger being driven by a woman.

“I did a lot of research and talked to a number of women who narrated their unpleasant experiences, which made me see the need of coming up with a female-only taxi,” says Ms Habib.

When it was launched in 2018, there were more than 1,000 downloads and requests to use their service within a week. Unfortunately, at the time this article was written, the app was under maintenance so all bookings are still made on call.

Affirmative nod

“Men also call me to let me know that the ladies in their lives, or children, would wish to use An Nisa as a mode of transport, and that tells you that the worry is felt by both genders,” says Ms Habib.

An Nisa today, has more than 50 female drivers that work mainly in Nairobi and Mombasa.

It is even a feel-good option for female taxi drivers. Beatrice Wambui, a 30-year-oldwho has been a taxi driver for ten years now, has an affirmative nod for the An Nisa experience.

Ms Wambui juggles between all the online taxi service providers available in Nairobi. But says: “Having an An Nisa client feels safe, because I already know it is a fellow woman coming on board.”

Although she may not be affected much when she uses the other online taxi services, the discrimination starts from the passenger.

“One time I got a client request for my ride, when I accepted the request and they found out that it was a woman behind the wheel, they cancelled, and I felt so bad,” Ms Wambui says.

Late night ride

With An Nisa, she says, the expectation and reality are usually in synchrony. So, once a client calls in, they know that it is a woman who will drive them, so they do not have any reservations because that is what they sign up for.

Ms Habib does not just employ any woman to be her driver.

“I prefer drivers who have driven for a while, say 10 years or more, not less and should comply with all NTSA (National Transport and Safety Authority) requirements.”

And for clients who may want a late night ride, or a very early ride; say to the airport, they make advanced booking so that safety precautions including the driver’s, are considered.

Curfew

“I had to apply for a curfew pass that allows me to pick and drop off clients who travel in the wee hours of the night. With the pandemic, I insist that the client wears a face mask and sits on the back seat,” adds Ms Wambui.

For safety, An Nisa has partnered with Lady Askari, a company that offers protection services to women. The services, just like An Nisa, are provided by female trained security guards.

by nation.africa

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