From humble beginnings in the 1960’s, Kiamaiko has evolved with time to become a leading and preferred place to source halal goat meat
Kiamaiko in Nairobi’s Huruma area is famed for the selling of live goats or better still, fresh meat of the same.
Thus, chances are very high that the goat meat you consume over lunch hour in many eateries in/around Nairobi and even beyond is sourced from this place.
However, not many are aware of the humble beginnings of Kiamaiko or history behind it.
According to Baba Ramadhan who has lived to see it all, he says Kimaiko’s history spans from the early 1960’s; and at that time it was land covered by forest.
In the early 1960’s, a European settler decided sell that a portion of land measuring 20 acres to shareholders for 3 Shillings per share to about a thousand people. Upon payment, each shareholder was allocated a plot each.
Elections were held by shareholders and another European by the name of Michael was elected chairman of the group upon purchase of the land.
The only Muslim said to have bought a share was Dida Boru-a surveyor by profession.
Since Muslims were few back then, the only place they bought shares in large numbers was called Thayu-’the lower Kiamaiko’ located on the river edge. The ‘upper Kiamaiko’ was referred to as Mahera.
Thus, Kiamaiko got its famous name in reference to Michael-the chairman. Hence the name, Kiamaiko (Kia-It belongs to; Maiko-loose translation for Michael)
Dima Burke-a Muslim; was busy buying shares that were going for 2.50 shillings for the ‘lower Kiamaiko’-while the ‘upper Kiamaiko’ was going for 3 shillings.
In 1964, Dida Boru and Abdi Wangari bought more plots at Thayu area as Alake Duba bought plots at Redeemed.
At this juncture, the only well known Muslim was Abdi Wangari (Abdi Molu); who had married a woman by the name of Wangari hence the name Abdi Wangari.
Abdi Wangari is said to have come from Kibra and being an entrepreneur, he got into business.
The five gentlemen namely Dima Burke, Dida Boru, Abdi Wangari, Alake Duba and Muhammed Konso approached and rented a building from a person known as Kimani for the purposes of establishing a butchery because the nearest one could only be found in Kariobangi.
As development gain pace as well as a growing population, so did the need to satisfy the demand for meat consumption.
According to Baba Ramadhan, this is when the history of Kiamaiko as a meat selling area began taking shape.
“The five gentlemen began by buying and slaughtering cows before selling the meat. They did it the next four years while operating in the ‘lower Kiamaiko’.”
However, sluggish sales and pressure from consumers that they introduce goat meat which they claimed was soft and sweet; made them change tact.
Initially, goats were sourced from people’s homesteads in Kiambu, Limuru, Ruiru and as far as Thika.
“Actually, it was a bargain given that for the price of a cow, the same amount could fetch up to between 10-15 goats.”
According to Baba Ramadhan, these gentlemen owing to good business; had to put in place mechanisms to move the slaughter house to it’s present location-the ‘upper Kiamaiko’.
Thus, in 1968, Dima Burke and Dida Boru went to rent a place now occupied by Burka Slaughter house as Abdi Wangari also set to rent his own which is at the present location occupied by Mwangaza Slaughter House.
Sadly, their colleague Muhammed Konso was killed after differing with a business colleague.
Alake Duba began Alake butchery although at a later stage sold it to Abdi Wangari and now known as ABM Slaughter House.
Actually, it is these three pioneer slaughter houses namely Burka, Mwangaza and ABM slaughter houses that cemented Kiamaiko’s place in the goat meat business.
In the late 1960’s, the slaughtering premises were entirely made out of cartoon and supporting sticks.
From 1984 onwards, the Muslim population in this place was barely a hundred but as time went by; the numbers went upwards significantly as more opted to join the goat meat trade.
Over time, as slaughter houses began complying with government regulations; things have evolved for the better.
“It was out of the intervention of former Nairobi Provincial Commissioner Francis Lekolool, that Kiamaiko began evolving to permanent brick and mortar structures as well adhering to stringent hygiene standards including use of veterinary officers.”
Thereafter, owners of slaughter houses and employees were put through a series of trainings on how to improve and maintain hygiene besides complying with other government regulations.
Thus, by now Kiamaiko’s produce of fresh goat meat was becoming a household name as surrounding and upcoming Muslim areas such Eastleigh began placing orders.
The rapid expansion and raising demand saw live goats sourced from as Tala, Kangundo, Matuu, Kitui and Mwala.
In the early 1970’s, pioneers in sourcing for animals from Garissa’s Bangal market and Wajir are said to be Mzee Ali Amar and a Mr. Hussein.
Back then, a well fed goat is to cost KShs.120 compared to the present KShs.15,000. A medium sized goat is said to cost KShs.80 compared to the present KShs.6000.
Later, other traders extended their search for animals to Chalbi in Marsabit. Recent places include Turkana, parts of Migori and Wamba on your way to Isiolo.
Interestingly, a kilo of goat meat was being sold at KShs7.50 in 1978 compared to over KShs.400 today.
Further, one goat is said to employ over 15 individuals directly and indirectly.
Right from the owner, herders, to slaughter men, skinners, washers, to nyama choma vendors, wrapping bag sellers, head/feet sellers, mitura vendors, carriers, drivers/boda boda motorcyclists to dispatch orders, car wash men... and so forth.
Goat meat from Kiamaiko is said to reach places such as Sultan Hamud, Nyahururu, Meru, Machakos and Matuu among others.
Muslim women too played a role in shaping Kiamaiko’s destiny. A lady known as Makia Dima Burke (now deceased) from Saku-Marsabit is reportedly having trained several young men on ways on skinning an animal faster.
“She had a special technique of skinning an animal which she taught us thus free ourselves time for other activities. We were also taught how to sharpen our knives among other things.”
According to Baba Ramadhan, the reason that people have gained trust in meat from Kiamaiko is that it is done in a halal way and by Muslims.
“Many say that chances of consuming meat of other animals like donkeys is unlikely. They say that Muslims cannot slaughter and sell animals that cannot be consumed by others.”
Indeed, halal veterinary officers are also at standby to oversee that meat is up to quality.
Slaughter houses have worked out a formula that enables them to operate even during Sundays and other public holidays. “We have made arrangements with the vets to pick them up from wherever they live so to they assist us.”
Kiamaiko slaughter houses also run 364 days throughout the year. “This is the only place that meat in always available fresh.”
Together with the availability of clean running water 24/7, the slaughter houses have been able to maintain high standards of hygiene.
Currently, there are 15 slaughter houses that operate under Kiamaiko Slaughter Houses namely; Saku, Moyale, Al-Mumin, Burka, ABM, Tulla, Shukuru (A&B), Mwangaza, Musa, MaoMao, Yaa, B.K, Karamas and Wonderful Slaughter Houses respectively.
Kimaiko Slaughter Houses was registered in 2003 and elected members include Wario Agal-Chairman; Bilacha Galawe-Vice-Chairman; Abdi Bayana-Secretary; Choke Hussein-Ass.Secretary; Bafkadu Nagasa-Treasurer and Hussein Wako-Org.Secretary.
Committee Members include Dika Godana and Abdi Molu (Abdi Wangari).
Kiamaiko Slaughter House also has representatives elected from each of the slaughter house.
They include Wario Agal, Dika Godana, Bilacha Galawe, Galgalo Irbe, Muse Dado, Abdi Bayana, Bafkado Nagasa, Hussein Wako, Abdalla Hirbo, Worko Dawe, Abdi Molu, Wole Yayo, Woshe Arme, Wario Wako and Choke Hussein.
Meanwhile, Kiamaiko Slaughter Houses have an ambitious plan to move operations to modern facility complete with modern equipment to be located in between Njiru and Ruai-in the outskirts of Nairobi along Kangundo Road. Construction is on-going and nearing complete.
Muslim organizations that have offered Certification include Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM) and Kenya Bureau of Halal Certification (KBHC).