The Nairobi River Needs to Change its Name.

The Nairobi River Needs to Change its Name.


In a few years, we will have a whole generation confused about the meaning of the word river. The confusion will arise when the children in Nairobi are taught that the Nairobi River is actually a river and then those same children get to visit their rural homes where their counterparts will tell them that what they see there is the actual definition of a river.

The fact though remains that what they will see will be a replica of what those of us who lived in the last generation saw as rivers. The fact that we are living in such a time when the effects of climate change are right in front of us complicates things even further. 

In the case of the Nairobi River, overpopulation and environmental pollution are the killer shot. I have walked along with some parts of the river where raw sewage is directly emptied into the river. The worrying thing is that those cases are so many that it sets a chill down my spine. 

Why is that so? Back in our geography classes or you must have heard I bet that there are tributaries. These are small rivers that empty into big rivers. What you could be seeing as a big river would be a tributary to another bigger river.

That means that the Nairobi River empties into another bigger river and finds itself into the Indian Ocean at the end of it all. With all the pollution the river carries, the threat now becomes spread to include sea life.

Down its course, some people use its water for domestic use. The same is used for irrigation in farming. Now that some industrial effluent finds itself into the river, the cycle means that somewhat Karma gets to repay us with polluted food tour tables.

Elements such as lead (Pb) are heavy and if in the water and the same used for farming will definitely be in the food ultimately. The same goes for Mercury (Hg), Selenium (Se), Copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn), etc. which are commonly used in industrial processes. 

Some of these elements have been known to be severely carcinogenic and have the potential of causing both cardiovascular and cancerous diseases. Out of studying research carried on samples drawn from the Nairobi River, I can confirm that the quality of that ‘water’ is wanting. 

So instead of calling that dark sledge water to guarantee the name of a river, the Nairobi River should simply be called wastewater drainage which is what it should be, I know it is possible, to be diverted from emptying its water to rivers emptying into the Indian ocean directly. 

Treating the water can be the most expensive affair. Still, at least we can try and make sure the water undergoes basic treatment such as removing the plastics, and fabrics and going through massive sand and soil beds before becoming a river and emptying into another river source.

If this becomes hard to fathom, the bigger task that awaits us as a whole and not in part. That task of working to ensure that at a personal level we do our part to avoid polluting the river. This is way too hard because we all have a different take on things. But this too is possible.

If we are not going to do anything to change the story of the Nairobi River, then it is high time we changed its name. Whatever the name will ultimately give it, we will have to ensure that the name river is not part of it. And it must be there, and then we will have to ensure that we revise the meaning of the word river. That is the seriousness of this Nairobi River story. 

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege is the Editor and topical contributor for the Daily Focus. He writes in the areas of Science, Politics, Policy, Technology, Current Affairs, Opinion, Agriculture, Energy, Education, Entrepreneurship, Governance, International Emerging Issues, Society, and culture. For featuring, promotions or support write to us at
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