Cheza chini ES!
He is said to be Nairobi’s best mayor ever as the capital was truly the ‘Green City in the Sun’ during his reign for three years to 1983.
Nathan Kahara, the father of Nairobi Woman Rep, Rachel Wambui Shebesh, oversaw such efficiency in running City Hall, residents cringed at any misguided person throwing Big G and ball gum on the pavements.
Born in Kariua village, Kandara, Murang’a County on May 20, 1944, Kahara’s mother gave him the name Nathan, as it was the name God chose in her dream. Nathan means ‘God given.’ The well-to-do family had its ancestral land grabbed by colonialists, thus condemning young Kahara to a life of penury, for which jiggers, fleas and bedbugs were a constant menace.
As a child, Kahara fell from atop a tree and onto a jackal after dozing and losing grip! He was left rolling when he slid off the canine’s back as it ran away. He also once stepped on a snake that coiled round his foot while returning home from Gathima Primary School.
He hopped like a long-jump champ and years later - in memory of that - donated land for the construction of a children’s home, not far from the ‘snake spot’ at Nguku Shopping Centre.
The alumnus of National School of Marketing, UK, University of Nairobi College; and Christian University, Pakistan (honourary doctorate), became the youngest councillor in Nairobi at the age of 23 and in his mid-30s, the youngest president of the International Union of Local Authorities (IULA).
But it was his stint as mayor of Nairobi that Kahara is best remembered. Estates like Kimathi, Uhuru, Kariobangi South, Harambee and Umoja, were built through negotiating cheap long-term loans with the World Bank.
Nairobians bought houses in these estates via deposits of as low as Sh2,500 and Sh1,200 for Kariobangi South. This was besides erecting Kenyatta Market and other markets in Dandora, Umoja and Kahawa. He also oversaw the greening of Nairobi through tree planting and marketing it abroad, attracting many dignitaries and heads of state.
Little wonder that he went into philanthropy and humanitarian work after serving as mayor of Nairobi, as he was later to become Governor of Kenya Red Cross Society, Child Welfare Society, Kenya Scouts Council and chair of Peace Makers International.
Kahara, recipient of Man of the Year (Kenya), Lions International Medal (USA), Red Cross International Award (Geneva) and the International African Award (Spain), lost his job after the Nairobi City Council was dissolved and replaced with the Nairobi City Commission for 10 years to 1993. And that was when the city went to the dogs!