Kenyans can be a superstitious people, and when it comes with a tale to back the fears, some places in the country are a no-go zone by the members of the public.
The capital, Nairobi City, is home to some of the most feared buildings in the country owing to some of the horrific stories narrated by persons who have the experience or those who heard it from someone who had the experience.
These fears arise from stories of cults, torture, bad lifts that stall for hours, bad omens among several others.
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Whownskenya.com looks at some of the most feared buildings in Nairobi
The official presidential residence is feared by many. Even lawmakers on an official assignment at the presidential residence shiver at the fact of having to go there.
State House boasts a heavy security presence with special unit officers drawn from Recce Squad and the General Service Unit (GSU) constantly patrolling the residence.
Vehicles and persons entering and leaving the residence undergo security checks to ensure maximum security in the area.
Idling or photography in the area is highly prohibited. A selfie in the area might gift you a date with security officers and an overnight grilling.
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Numerous motorists who have had their cars break down along State House Road, have narrated how security officers emerge from nowhere and help them fix their cars, so that they can get going as soon as possible.
The Freemasons Hall
Freemasonry is one of the least understood societies in Kenya and the world as a whole.
In Kenya, the earliest freemasons came to the country to construct the All Saints Cathedral Church and in the process, their built their Freemasons Lodge on the junctions of Nyerere Road and Kenyatta Avenue.
It was built in the 1930s and has always appeared deserted, sparking the emergence of mythical stories.
The society’s secretive history that mixes religion with symbolism and invites only the rich, sparking fear and mystery from members of the public about the Freemasons Hall.
Know the small building next to the University of Nairobi along University Way? Well, that is the Jewish Synagogue.
Many Kenyans cannot tell a Jew by sight, and while many other places of worship can be seen crowded, this synagogue of always quiet.
To attend the Minya (service), one has to fill an online application form and be cleared by security 24 hours before the service which starts at 8:30 every Saturday. This is perhaps why you will never see any traffic there.
The Nairobi Jewish Synagogue was built in 1912 and is one of the oldest buildings in the city. The Jewish Community is Kenya is also tiny.
For the younger Kenyan generation, this building houses the Immigration Department and is where we go to collect our identity cards and passport. We walk in and out freely.
However, for the older generation, a mention of its name elicits memories of oppression, torture and pain.
“After its completion in 1983 it was popularised as the second tallest building after the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC),” John Ng’aari, a pro-democracy activist in the 1980s was quoted by the Standard as saying.
“But opinionated Kenyans were in for a rude shock, for beyond the beautiful brown finishing, lurked dark chambers where dissidents were tortured into submission,” he said.
The 27-storey building sends fear through the spines of political activists and opposition leaders for what they underwent inside the building.
This is one of the buildings where Kenyans would walk fast past it. Anyone loitering in the area would be picked up and taken in for questioning.
Tales of the special branch that was headquartered at the building and would take people in for torture, terrified members of the public.
“I avoid not only going anywhere near Nyati House but also seeing it evokes memories of the old terror days when speaking out was a crime.
“Among our prayer items those days was ‘may God save us from Nyati House’,” Ng’aari told the publication.
The activist stated that walking through Loita Street sent shockwaves down his spine making him want to visit the loo. Though the special branch was scrapped and the National Intelligence Service offices moved to Kiambu Road, Nyati House still spells fear among Nairobians.
Mathari Psychiatric Hospital
The facility was established in 1910 as the site of a small pox isolation centre and named Nairobi Lunatic Asylum. It was renamed to Mathari Psychiatric Hospital in 1964.
Other than visiting members of the family, relatives or friends, many Kenyans actually fear this establishment. The phrase “nitakupeleka Mathare” has often been used to scare people, especially when we were growing up.
A few years ago over 40 patients escaped from the facility, this sent a sense of panic and fear among Nairobians, but the patients were nabbed and returned to the facility.
To many people, Mathari Psychiatric Hospital is the equivalent of “a maximum security prison for mentally challenged persons”.
Kamiti Maximum Prison
This is another place that terrifies most people in Kenya. A mention of it can make you reform. It is one of the most dreaded prisons in Kenya and was referred to as the “Kamiti Downs” by colonialists.
Very few would like to call this place home or even visit unless you have a family member, relative or friend you are going to see. Lets be honest, even walking through its gates on a visitation alone is enough to send fear down your spine.
The building is one of the most feared in Nairobi. The heavy security presence in the area, with mean looking officers patrolling the area alone is enough to scare you.
Security officers who are heavily armed can often be seen patrolling the area. Tumbo Street which lies between CB and Times Tower is occasionally sealed off completely as heavy armoured vehicles enter and leave the CBK.
Idling and photography in the area is highly prohibited. It is one of the streets in Nairobi you will not find even a single begger.
According to the Standard, the building is owned by the International House Limited who bought it in 1985. It is heavily guarded and has an in-house police post, the only other building with such is KICC.
The building is loaded with security cameras and a those walking in and out are subjected to thorough checks. Sitting in the waiting area for more than 5 minutes invites scrutiny from the police.