A few years ago, Syokimau was a sparsely populated neighbourhood nestled in the middle of Nairobi County and Machakos County, with as many wild animals as human beings.
The sighting of rain sent a chill down the spine of even the bravest of souls because rain meant muddy impassable roads even for the toughest of off-road vehicles and it was a nightmare for the shoebaru and footsubishi owners.
The neighbourhood was not served by public transport and the phone number of the handful of motor cycle operators was a valued treasure. Even the odd kiosk around the corner was a rare sight and woe unto you if you were already at home with no salt for the evening’s dinner or milk and bread for breakfast.
Barber shops, saloons, drycleaners, cyber cafes and other commonplace conveniences were of course a luxury and the king of business was the hardware dealer. Perhaps the hardware shop is still the real deal for a few more years.
Fast forward to today and Syokimau, the residential area west of Machakos County or south of Nairobi County, currently has an estimated population of 10,000 people, mostly middle class professionals and entrepreneurs.
The estate has emerged as a cosmopolitan high middle-income estate off Mombasa Road and is named after a reknown prophetess and healer in the Akamba community. Syokimau prophesied the coming of the white people to Kenya and also prophesied construction of the Mombasa-Kisumu railway line.
She prophesied seeing a long snake whose head was in the Indian Ocean and the tail was in Lake Victoria. Her prophesy came to pass when construction of the railway line began at the port city of Mombasa in 1896 and was completed in 1901 in Kisumu, on the eastern shore of Lake Victoria.
It is somewhat a befitting tribute to Syokimau the prophetess that the first extension of the rail network in Kenya since independence happened in the place named after her, when in November 2012 the Kenyan government officially opened a new commuter rail service connecting the estate to the Nairobi Central Business District.
Construction is now underway to build the Nairobi interchange for the Standard Gauge Railway at Syokimau railway station, after President Uhuru Kenyatta presided over the ground breaking ceremony in September 2015.