Nestling at the foot of the Ngong Hills and conveniently tucked away from the bustle of Nairobi city is Karen. It was given the name Karen after its most prominent resident, a Danish author of the colonial memoir ‘Out of Africa’, Karen Blixen. Her home still stands today functioning as a museum and tourist attraction.
Blixen herself declared in her later writings that “the residential district of Karen” was “named after me”. And Remy Martin, the developer who bought the farm in 1931 and converted it into residential lots for Nairobi’s fast-growing population, confirmed that he named the neighborhood for Blixen.
The provenance of the name may in fact be more subtly complex. Blixen herself was known to her friends in Africa not as “Karen” but as “Tanne”. The farm, a coffee plantation, was officially incorporated as the “Karen Coffee Company”, and was owned by her extended family, most of whom lived in Denmark. The chairman of the board was her uncle, Aage Westenholtz. Westenholtz may have named the company after his own daughter, Karen.
It is possible that Martin gave the area the name “Karen” because he thought the name of the coffee company came from Blixen herself; he may not have been aware that the farm’s official name was derived from a different Karen. Either way, in 1975, Martin confirmed for Judith Thurman, Blixen’s biographer, that in calling the district “Karen”, he was thinking of the farm’s famous resident.
Surrounding Ngong Road, Langata Road and Magadi Road, Karen boasts elaborate spaces filled with plush trees and greenery to behold.
Karen Country Club is situated in the green residential district of Karen, offering one of the finest 18-hole golf courses in the country with members reflecting well the mix of nationalities in the area.
The Ngong Racecourse located along Ngong Road adjacent to Lenana School and following the Nairobi Business Park is a big source of pride in Karen.
As you soon as you drive into Karen, you will be greeted with a sense of organisation. The clean, serene, quiet, good roads, neat hedges, unpaved curbs, handsome trees, solar street lights, qualified security personnel, road bumps and traffic signs are accredited to a strong resident’s association.
While the suburb retains its shabby-chic colonial look, Karen has grown to become a prime residential suburb in Nairobi, attracting the rich and wealthy from all walks of life.
Sprawling with executive gated communities, ranches belonging to some key individuals in the country, including the Vice President’s home, and high-end shopping malls make Karen one of the safest neighbourhoods to live in.
At their convenience, residents enjoy the closeness of Karen Hub, which is the second biggest mall in Kenya, after Garden City along Thika Road, and Galleria Mall. In the heart of Karen Centre are Karen Crossroads and Karen Square that have served the locals for many years.
Due to the increased residential developments business parks are quickly coming up to host corporates. The key notable ones include the Nairobi Business Park, and the Watermark, a signature development in Karen.
Feel right at home in Karen. Buy property in Karen and own your little piece of paradise. Many individuals here live in enviable opulence in gated and non-gated communities. In a typical household, there is a spacious compound with well-manicured lawns, a swimming pool and large trees. An artificial river flowing through some compounds or man-made lakes are common, especially in the gated communities. Buy a house in Karen such as this for KES 30 Million to KES 700 Million.
The suburb of Karen borders the Ngong Road Forest and is home to the Ngong Racecourse. It is also known for its large European population. Karen and Langata jointly form a somewhat isolated area of high-income suburbs.
Blixen’s home is still standing and is a local tourist attraction. The Nyumbani Orphanage is also located in Karen.
Karen Estate in Nairobi: Contents
Karen Estate in Nairobi: History
Karen was previously within Ngong County. After Nairobi received city status in 1950 the counties were redefined. In 1963 Karen was placed under the Nairobi City Council’s administration.
Karen Estate in Nairobi: Cityscape
Karen includes international schools, a commercial centre, religious congregation headquarters, charity associations, and a country club with golf facilities. There is a branch of the Red Cross in Karen.
Karen Estate in Nairobi: Government
The Karengata Association manages Karen and Langata. It was organized in 1940 and by 2010 it had begun to manage the area’s infrastructure.
Karen Nairobi: Demographics
As of 2010, Karen remained populated by large numbers of American, German, Japanese, and Scandinavian expatriates and their families. Other residents include white Kenyans of European ancestry. Until 1980 the residents of Karen were chiefly British nationals.
Karen Nairobi: Education
Well-heeled schools both IGCSE and 8-4- 4 can be found in Karen such as Hillcrest, Brookhouse, Banda, West Nairobi, Nairobi Japanese, St. Hannah and St. Christopher’s schools among many others. Notable charities include the Nyumbani Children’s Home and several animal sanctuaries.
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