Overview of Kitui County
Kitui County is located 170Km to the South East of Nairobi City. It covers an area of about 30,496 km2. Kitui County shares its borders with seven counties;
Tharaka-Nithi and Meru to the north, Embu to the northwest, Machakos and Makueni to the west, Tana River to the east and southeast, and Taita-Taveta to the south.
Overview of Kitui County Sub-Counties, Wards and Villages
The name Kitui means ‘a place where iron goods are made’. The Kamba iron-smiths who settled in the county many years before the colonial period are the ones who named the area Kitui.
The Kamba speak the Kamba language (also known as Kikamba) as a mother tongue. It belongs to the Bantu branch of the Niger-Congo language family.
Did you know Kikamba has no letters c, f, j, r, x, q and p in its alphabet?
Like many Bantus, the Akamba were originally hunters and gatherers, became long-distance traders because of their knowledge of the expansive area they inhabited and good relations with neighbouring communities as well as excellent communication skills, later adopted subsistence farming and pastoralism due to the availability of the new land that they came to occupy.
The Akamba traded in locally produced goods such as sugar cane wine, ivory, brass amulets, tools and weapons, millet, and cattle. The food obtained from trading helped offset shortages caused by droughts and famines experienced in their Kamba land.
They also traded in medicinal products known as ‘Miti’ (literally: plants), made from various parts of the numerous medicinal plants found on the Southeast African plains. Maingi Ndonye Mbithi, commonly referred by his peers and locals as Kanyi, from Kimutwa village in Machakos was best known for his concoction of herbs mixed with locally fermented brew (kaluvu) with the ability to heal cancerous boils (Mi’imu). The Akamba are still known for their fine work in wood carving, basketry and pottery and the products . Their artistic inclination is evidenced in the sculpture work that is on display in many craft shops and galleries in the major cities and towns of Kenya.
In the mid-eighteenth century, a large number of Akamba pastoral groups moved eastwards from the Tsavo and Kibwezi areas to the coast. This migration was the result of extensive drought and lack of pasture for their cattle. They settled in the Mariakani, Kinango, Kwale, Mombasa West (Changamwe and Chaani) and Mombasa North (Kisauni) areas of the coast of Kenya, creating the beginnings of urban settlement. They are still found in large numbers in these towns and have been absorbed into the cultural, economic and political life of the modern-day Coast Province. Several notable businessmen and women, politicians, as well as professional men and women are direct descendants of these itinerant pastoralists.
Major towns in the county include Kitui, Mwingi, Mutomo, Kwa Vonza, Mutitu, Ikutha, Kabati, Migwani, Mutonguni, Mbitini and Kyuso.
The climate is semi-arid; it receives roughly 71 cm (28 inches). A significant point however is that rainfall occurs practically only during the rainy seasons (one long around March & April, and one short, around October,November and December).The terms Long and Short Rains has nothing to do with amount of rainfall received but rather on the length of the rainy season
Kitui has several primary, secondary schools, colleges and polytechnics
Kathungi Secondary School, which is also found in Kitui County, is famous for its football championship in the country. Kathungi were the 2013 national silver medalists. Alongside the national champions Upper Hill, they represented Kenya in East Africa Secondary School games held in Lira, Uganda.
South Eastern Kenya University is a public university located in Kitui with the Main Campus at Kwa Vonza and other campuses at Mwingi and Kitui towns. Kenyatta University has a campus at Kwa Vonza while Moi University has a campus at Kyuso in Mwingi North sub-county. University of Nairobi also has a campus in Kitui town. Kenya Medical Training College has campuses in Kitui and Mwingi.
Kitui County has 242 health facilities with Kitui Level V Hospital and 13 Level IV Hospitals Namely Mwingi Level IV Hospital, Tseikuru Level IV Hospital, Kyuso Level IV Hospital, Nuu Level IV Hospital, Migwani Level IV Hospital, Kauwi Level IV Hospital, Katulani Leve IV Hospital, Kanyangi Level IV Hospital, Ikanga Level IV Hospital, Mutomo Level IV Hospital, Ikutha Level IV Hospital, Zombe Level IV Hospital.
Kitui county has large deposits of coal in Mui Basin, having low energy content/calorific value, meaning it produces less heat when burned. It also has sulphur. The coal could potentially supply the 1,000 MW Lamu Coal Power Station, and the 960-megawatt (MW) Kitui coal plant.
Mutomo/Ikutha district contains limestone.
In Kitui county is one of the largest Rock outcrops in Kenya which is locally known as “Ivia ya Nzambani”. Situated past Kitui Town, about 1 km from Chuluni Market is the Nzambani Rock which is famous for the tales and myths of its origin. Activities here include hiking and rock climbing.
- South Kitui National Reserve
- Mwingi National Reserve
- Ikoo Valley
- Ngomeni Rock Catchment.
Christianity is the dominant religion in Kitui County. Roman Catholics make about 15% of the county’s population. Other Christian denominations in the county include the African Inland Church (AIC), Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK), Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA), Independent Presbyterian Church (IPC), Redeemed Gospel Church and many others. Kitui county has a significant number of Muslims and several mosques can be spotted around the county’s major urban centres. Few people in the county still hold on to traditional beliefs. They believe in a god called Mulungu or Ngai – the creator of everything on Earth.
Following its mandate as a County, The County Government of Kitui developed this long-term development blue print, “Kitui Vision for economic and social transformation” aimed at guiding its economic and social development for the next ten years up to the year 2025. The envisaged County long-term development blue print covers the economic and investment zones which were endorsed by stakeholders in November 2013. These economic and investment zones include:
- Kyuso-Mumoni-Tseikuru Economic and Investment Zone (EIZ)
- Mui Basin Economic and Investment Zone (EIZ)
- Mwingi Town and Environs Economic and Investment Zone (EIZ)
- Kitui County Headquarters and Environs Economic and Investment Zone (EIZ)
- Kanyangi-Kwa Vonza-Kanyonyoo Economic and Investment Zone (EIZ)
- Mutomo-Ikutha-Kanziko Economic and Investment Zone (EIZ)
Chief Kivoi Mwendwa
Much of documented pre colonial history about the Kamba people revolves around Kivoi Mwendwa famously known as ‘Chief Kivoi’ (born in the 1780s). He was a Kamba long Distance trader who lived in the present day Kitui. He is best known for guiding first Europeans to reach the interior of the area of present day Kenya where the German missionaries Johann Ludwig Krapf and Johannes Rebmann of the Anglican Church Missionary Society (CMS), in 1849, “discovered” Mount Kenya.
At that time, Kitui was the home of Kivoi and he had several other possessions along his caravan route. Kivoi commanded a large following , and it was he who met the missionaries in Mombasa, and guided them to Kitui where – on December 3, 1849 – they became the first Europeans to set eyes on Mount Kenya. Back in Europe, their reports of snow on the equatorial mountain were met with disbelief and ridicule for many years after.
Chief Kivoi interacted with Arabs at the coast and Voi town was named after him because that was one of his stop overs towns where caravans settled before entered into the coastal town of Mombasa. According locals of Voi Town, Kivoi settled along Voi River in the mid 1800s. His actual birth date is unknown as is not recorded but he is believed to have lived between 1780s to 19th August 1852. His descendants are not known in historical context but he was adversely mentioned by Dr. Ludwig Krapf in his Mission to Africa. According to Dr. Ludwig Krapf, he was killed together with his immediate followers after his caravan was attacked by robbers during an expedition in Tana River 2 miles from present day Yatta . According to his diary entry Ludwig Krapf says, ‘This expedition proved most calamitous, and, as already mentioned, Krapf’s “escape with life was a marvel.” When within a mile or two of the Dana, the party was suddenly attacked by robbers. The greater part of the caravan was instantly dispersed, Kivoi’s people flying in all directions; Kivoi himself was killed with his immediate followers; Krapf fired his gun twice, but into the air, “for,” said he, “I could not bring myself to shed the blood of man;” and then he found himself in the bash, separated from both friend and foe, and flying in what he supposed to be the best direction.’ After the death of Chief Kivoi, Ludwig Krapf was accused of causing his death and the Akamba condemned him to die also. At midnight he managed to escape, and fled in the direction of Yata. His perils were now greater than before, as he was in an inhabited country, and feared to travel by day lest he should be detected and murdered, while at night he frequently missed his way, and in the dense darkness of the forests his compass was of little use.