Sende Moto: Inside an estate's struggle for a blessing

A section of Sende Moto estate in Engineer town, in Nyandarua County. The estate’s name is notorious for its vulgar meaning and reputation for crime, prostitution, and illicit activities.


Photo credit: Waikwa Maina| Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Despite Sende Moto’s proximity to the Engineer Police Station and sub-County headquarters, it remains a headache for law enforcement officers. 
  • In November 2019, the clergy began cleansing the place with prayer sessions and anointments. But Sende Moto has remained.


To a stranger visiting Engineer Town in Nyandarua County for the first time, learning about Sende Moto estate might be shocking. 

The estate’s name is notorious for its reputation for crime, prostitution and other illicit activities. 

Of concern is that it has been a thorn in the flesh of law enforcers in the Kinangop area and is infamous for prostitution, murders, rape and being a notorious criminal hideout.

Locals, however, view the name as routine and unremarkable and having grown up there and knowing it since childhood, it's no big deal. The area is also well known for all the wrong reasons, including brothels and illicit brews.

Despite Sende Moto’s proximity to the Engineer Police Station and sub-County headquarters, it remains a headache for law enforcement officers. 

“It is not unusual to hear someone shout in the streets that they are heading to Sende Moto, or identifying a person living there by that name. This is similar to how residents of big cities proudly identify with their urban dwelling,” says Joy Gachiri, a resident.

Previous attempts to cleanse the area have been in vain, as have been efforts by religious leaders to rename the area from Sende Moto to Kirathimo (blessings).

There is a common belief that "the only thing one can't find at Sende Moto is life, but you can lose one there.”

Mugo Nyakerie, a resident, describes the place as a "carefree world, where patrons can enjoy their life without fear. Things that happen there remain a guarded secret, whether they are done during the day or under the cover of darkness." 

Mugo told Nation.Africa he lost his property due to the estate's alluring lifestyle. He owned a shop and a plot within Engineer Town but took refuge in alcohol due to domestic squabbles.

He ended up selling the land in Sende Moto during one of the drinking sprees.

"This place is a comfort zone for anyone looking for peace, and you will get all the happiness you need. Most of those who have lost property were swindled by twilight girls and were easily lured by the cheap life at Sende Moto. Deals involving illicit land, vehicles, and other transactions are sealed at Sende Moto. Men have lost their property, and families have been auctioned since their property was sold and deals were sealed at Sende Moto. One can always get drunk with or without money,” he said.

Cleansing prayers

In November 2019, the clergy began cleansing the place with prayer sessions and anointments.

But Sende Moto has remained.

Bishop Mbuthia Njoroge, who led another clergy in cleansing the area, said the estate had destroyed families, with many men selling their land without family consent.

"The estate had also swallowed many businesses both small and prominent. By the word of prayer and confessions, we are never going to hear of murders, defilement, and rape incidents in this estate. Our youth, men, and women are going to change," said Bishop Mbuthia, who also chairs the local pastors' lobby.

However, Ms Gachiri believes that the cleansing by the clergy needs sustained efforts. 

"We are talking of a community lifestyle, a lifestyle they have enjoyed for decades, some of them were born there. We can't change the name of a place before understanding that community, their lifestyle, and why they have accepted the lifestyle as a means of life. The change needed to start with reforming the residents, getting them alternative means of living," said the businesswoman.

She adds that life is affordable at Sende Moto, such that with Sh100, one will feed, get drunk, and enjoy cheap sex.

“It's only at Sende Moto where you can have a meal at Sh10 or Sh20, a cup of soup retails at Sh10, and a toast at Sh10, that is enough lunch for low-income earners. Most of the meals retail at Sh20 at Sende Moto, why would anyone leave such an affordable lifestyle without a better alternative? You can get a piece of meat at Sh10, but you don’t have to ask what animal it is or where it came from, that is why it's impossible for things to change at Sende Moto,” explained Ms Gachiri.

Cheaper housing

Rental houses are also affordable at Sende Moto, with monthly rent between Sh300 and Sh500.

Senior Chief Magdalene Kariuki shares these sentiments and notes that things have improved since the mass closure of bars in the area.

“We did everything to change the lifestyle, we had many prayer sessions and anointments but things have remained the same. All the bars in that estate were closed down, but we have a challenge because that is where most of the commercial sex workers reside. Unfortunately, most of them are not from Engineer Town, they come from neighbouring Laikipia and Nakuru counties, and some are from very far away," she said.

A section of Sende Moto estate in Engineer town, in Nyandarua County. The estate’s name is notorious for its vulgar meaning and reputation for crime, prostitution, and illicit activities. 

Photo credit: Waikwa Maina| Nation Media Group

Chief Kariuki suggests that a lasting solution involves getting alternative sources of income for commercial sex workers. 

"If we can change and positively keep the women busy, then we will have succeeded, Sende Moto will be the Kirathimo estate we want. I thank the national government for its commitment to fighting and eradicating alcoholic and drug consumption and trade. That support has helped, and the situation has improved at Sende Moto," said the administrator.