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Kijabe – The Holy Town in Kiambu County
David a security officer of Kijabe Boys High school among many others introduced me to the town of Kijabe, a town referred to as a missionary town. Many a time when people hear of the word “Missionary,” they immediately think of peace, serenity and most of all holiness. All this descriptions can be found in Kijabe town that has strictly forbidden any sort of behavior other than one of purity. Behaviors and lifestyles such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarates and engaging in adultery or fornication are not encouraged in this town. You cannot find any shop selling cigarettes, condoms or even a bar. So strict are these rules that residents will tell you the do’s and don’ts. The strictness in the lifestyle makes many to not even open up to an economic platform like on advanced from Kenyans abroad.
The AIC Church is the main church. Everybody in Kijabe town is considered a Christian or is expected to be one. The locals explained, “When children are born here, they are taken to the church first. There is a doctrine of faith where children are trained about church matters.” This makes the towns unwritten law to be one where alcohol cannot be sold. “If one is found engaging in any way to start selling alcohol one is thrown out of the town. Those who smoke hide in bushes to do so and have to go to neighboring towns to buy cigarettes,” say the locals. Walking around I could not find any bar or club. Even those intending to start a family have to do it properly by wedding in the church. “Moving in without formalizing the marriage is equal to sinning thus breaking the town law.” One can be tempted to say that the town is almost dictatorial for the residents are not left to choose between right and wrong but rather brought up to do right whether one agrees with it or not.
A visit to Kijabe town leaves one feeling relaxed with a sense of adventure as you look at the environment of beautiful trees, hills, volcanic rocks and rivers. Kijabe town is a quiet town that receives a lot of visitors. The many visitors come to the prominent AIC Kijabe hospital for treatment. The hospital is usually full throughout the day and hardly receives any rest. Apart from activity in the hospital, the rest of Kijabe is very quiet and peaceful.
Main Economic Activities
One thing that stands out in Kijabe is the lack of banks. Not even a single bank is found in the area and residents have to go to Kimende for banking services. The area in the slopes to the Rift Valley is dry with very uneven terrain hence a lot of farming is done outside the town. Kimende is the source of food for Kijabe. In Kimende food farming is done extensively including Irish Potatoes, Kales, Cabbages and Carrots. Vegetables do well in Kimende because of the cold weather. Supply of food mostly comes from this area hence creation ‘Soko Mjinga’ a big market at Kinare that farmers can take their produce and sell.
Dairy farming is big in this area and most farmers engage in planting nappier grass. This dairy farming has resulted in big dairy plants that include Afro Milk, Sandale Milk, Limuru Milk and Kiriita Milk.
Education Levels and People’s Aspirations
Being a Christian town, on cannot rule out the existence of a bible college. Moffat Bible College was set up for any one wanting to join the way of the missionaries. Those called to serve the lord need not travel to other parts of the country.
Other institutions that the town is proud of include: Kijabe Boys High School, Kijabe Girls High School and Kijabe Primary School. There is also the Rift Valley Academy a private School that was also set up by the missionaries to serve their children. Locals say the academy is too expensive for them and is a preserve of the rich. The school is very closely guarded and many local residents say they have never been inside to see how it looks like or what kind of education is offered there.
Buildings and Type of Settlements
The region is basically upcountry and semi permanent structures are found in the region. Kijabe town has very few buildings with most of them having only the ground floor. The AIC Kijabe Hospital could be regarded as the landmark of the town.