Kenya is a vast country with very many different communities and ethnic groups. They all share similarities and sometimes notable differences that make them unique.
Both domestic and foreign tourists may get confused by our naming habits. Sometimes one may ask how different spots, towns or markets share similar sounding names. Is it just a coincidence or by design that one comes across identical names of markets, villages or even towns?
In western Kenya there are three different places called Luanda. A town in Vihiga County located on the main Kisumu – Busia highway just past Maseno is known as Luanda. Another Luanda is situated between Kisumu and Ahero on the way to Nairobi. The third Luanda is a market between Homa Bay and Mbita. Angola’s capital city is also known as Luanda.
Mbale is the headquarters of Vihiga County inside the Maragoli community and is located along the Kisumu Kakamega highway. However we also know that the third largest town in Uganda located at the foothills of Mt Elgon is also called Mbale.
Still in Kisumu County you find ‘Rabuor Market’ on the Kisumu Ahero road as Siaya County has its own ‘Rabuor Market’ in Gem Constituency.
Migingo in Migori County is the famous disputed island surrounded by the waters of Lake Victoria but it is also the name of a village in Kisumu County and yet another village in Karachuonyo, Homa Bay County.
The most overused name in Kenya could probably be ‘Makutano’. The one on your way to Embu maybe the most famous. It is located at a famous T-junction between Embu and Sagana. In Kiswahili, Makutano actually means ‘to meet’ so many markets located at either T-junctions or at crossroads were named ‘Makutano’.
In West Pokot County, there is a Makutano town at the junction of Kitale to Kapenguria highway. Actually it is the commercial centre of the county as opposed to Kapenguria which since colonial days remains the administrative headquarters.
There are two places called Matunda. One is along Kitale – Kisumu highway and another between Kitale and Eldoret. Travellers in Kisumu are often asked to specify ‘Matunda ya Kisumu’ or ‘Matunda ya Eldoret’.
At the border of Kenya and Uganda there is a Malaba Town in Busia County. This should not be confused with Malava Town located between Kakamega and Webuye. Bit different but with almost similar sounding name.
There is a Samburu Market in Kwale County within the Duruma community located on the main Voi – Mombasa highway. This is far from Samburu County home of the Samburu community with headquarters in Maralal Town.
Between Mwatate and Wundanyi Town there is famous girls’ school in a place called Bura. The Pokomo also have their own Bura where the irrigation Scheme is.
Nearer Nairobi we have two confusing places in Dagoretti Corner and Dagoretti Market. One is within Nairobi City and the latter although in Kiambu County is the place where the biggest slaughter house that serves the city is located.
When one is in Nakuru Town and says ‘I am going to Rongai’ it means the one whose MP is Raymond Moi. Nairobians are used to Rongai in Kajiado County although it is officially known as ‘Ongata Rongai’ cheekily also called ‘Nairobi Diaspora’.
Mau Narok and Narok Town are far apart but with similar names just like. Kiganjo near Nyeri Town is famous for hosting the Kenya Police Service Training College but when you come to Kiambu it is the name of a place near Gatundu.
The weirdest one is Kabete a village in Kiambu County and Kabete a village in Nyakach Kisumu County. Katito Market in Kisumu County and Katitu Market in Machakos County are miles apart but may just mixup travellers. No relation just names!