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The early history of present-day Muthaiga

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Muthaiga Golf Club in
Playing golf at the Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi. It is one of the facilities established by settlers following the lukewarm reception they received at the Nairobi Club that was frequented by government officials. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO 

At the turn of the 20th century, the area that is today known as Muthaiga was part of the Karura Forest, which was regarded as sacred ground by the Kikuyu people. The name Muthaiga refers to a tree whose bark was used as medicine by the Kikuyu.

As early as 1901, the colonial government recognised Karura Forest and the nearby City Park as sacred and forbade any occupation. However, John Ainsworth, the Nairobi Sub-Commissioner granted 1,600 acres of freehold land in the area to Frederick Baker on condition that he would supply Nairobi with dairy products.

Frederick Baker was born in December 1849 in Bunbury, Cheshire, England to Thomas Baker, a draper and grocer, and Eliza Sandbach. Before coming to East Africa, Frederick was a cotton cloth agent in Stratford, Lancashire where it is claimed he became bankrupt.

He arrived in Nairobi in 1901 with his second (or possibly his third) wife Marie Vera (popularly known as “Queenie”) and his son Guy, a former shipping clerk (born to his first wife Alice in October 1882).

Marie was the driving force behind the business and she established a thriving dairy with modern equipment. She became the main supplier of dairy products in the Protectorate and won many prizes at local events. Her butter was known as “siagi ya queenie” and was much preferred to the alternative product imported from India in tins. Marie ran the business with military precision and dealt ruthlessly with customers who were delinquent in paying their bills, frequently appearing in court pursuing defaulters.

In 1903, Marie was having difficulty in managing all 1,600 acres and she decided to lease 500 acres to other settlers, including James Archibald Morrison, a retired captain of the Grenadier Guards. Her husband joined the Nairobi Section (Mounted) of the Volunteer Reserve in 1904.

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Marie sold her property known as “Homestead Farm” in 1912 to Archie Morrison for £20 an acre, perhaps because of her husband’s advancing age (he was then 71), he was not well. The couple left for England leaving Guy behind. J.C. Coverdale surveyed the title for Morrison and discovered the land measured only 754 acres. In total Morrison owned about 2,000 acres lying between Mathare and Getathuru Rivers with

the Old Kiambu Road forming the eastern boundary.

By this time the ban on occupation had been lifted and Morrison transformed the dairy farm into residential plots of between 10 and 50 acres designed by the architectural firm of Henderson and Ward. He insisted that each sub divisional plot should be held on a freehold title containing highly restrictive covenants which are still enforceable by each plot owner to this day.

In the early 1900s many settlers were farming upcountry and it took up to five days to trek to Nairobi by ox-wagon, depending on how far you lived, to get supplies.

Nairobi Club, the only one available in those days was frequented mainly by government officials who looked down on the settlers and were often at loggerheads with them over their land distribution policies. Morrison built a club on the other side of town and on New Year’s Eve 1913, Muthaiga Country Club opened its doors. For many years Morrison was the president of the club.

While most of the members were hardworking settlers coming to restock their supplies, others, fed up with the tedium of upcountry life and perhaps depressed over crop failures, let more than just their hair down earning the club the unflattering nickname “The Mouline Rouge” of Nairobi.

Morrison designed and cut out tracks which became the roads that today divide Muthaiga into blocks. By the end of World War, I, Muthaiga had developed into a township separated from the rest of Nairobi by patches of undeveloped land.

Because of dusty and muddy roads with no nearby shopping facilities, Muthaiga was not amongst the most desirable areas in Nairobi. However, in 1928 Muthaiga was absorbed into Nairobi Municipality.

Today, Muthaiga, situated four kilometres from the city centre lies along shady tarmac roads that wind through lush wooded hills and valleys interspersed by streams that turn into brawling rivers during the rainy seasons.

It is home to wealthy Kenyans, long term expatriates on contract and old settlers living in “ambassadorial” mansions. The area has been likened to Beverly Hills in California.

While the restrictive covenants in this area are said to apply even today, I could not help noticing a new development of multiple-occupation dwelling houses towards Muthaiga Country Club.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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