Thika Road Estate Renamed After Church Linked Ngoma Tupu to Satanism

Apartments along Thika road
An undated photo of Thika Superhighway, Nairobi

Church elders on Monday, June 27, renamed Ngoma Tupu Estate, located in Juja,  off the Thika superhighway - over claims that the name was associated with satanism.

The estate, which is part of Murera Ward in Kiambu county, got its name in the early 2000s following the establishment of a popular bar known for playing non-stop music.

In reference to the generous music played to revellers, it was named Ngoma Tupu - which in Swahili and Sheng loosely translated to endless music. 

burning insence
An image of a smoking incense burner.

However, the interpretation of the name in the Kikuyu language, which is the local dialect, brought controversy as some have interpreted the word Ngoma to mean Satan and evil spirits. 

Before colonialism, the Kikuyu referred to the spirits of their ancestors as "Ngoma" and did not have a name for Satan. However, the spread of Christianity has seen the name become the accepted word for Satan. 

The church elders in Murera argued that the association to satan has cast a dark shadow upon Ngoma Tupu estate, bringing years of bad luck to the residents and arrested development in the area.

"The estate became synonymous with broken marriages and alcoholism because of that name. There is power in a name," Pastor Francis Mwangi stated.

As such, the church began a cleansing process which involved prayers that lasted for days as they walked around the neighbourhood, casting out the dark spirit they blamed for their misfortunes.

After performing the ritual, the estate was renamed Canaan - the land promised to Abraham, the father of faith, after God tested him according to the Christian beliefs. Mwangi claimed that the new name brought new fortunes.

However, a section of the residents maintain that the area will always be known as Ngoma Tupu as it formed part of the neighbourhood's history.

In its hey days, the drinking joint attracted revellers from far and beyond becoming popular for offering a variety of drinks other than the traditionally brewed chang'aa, which is outlawed in the country.

"It was very popular and gave alternative choices of drinks. People came all the way from Juja and Kimbo to make merry," Robert Kamande recounted.

In addition, it brought in live performances by popular bands and would run throughout the night. However, the bar closed its doors on January 2022.

The notion of the fate of an institution been linked to a name is not new in the country. In February 2021, parents of Chetoto Primary school asked for the name to be changed, blaming it for poor performance.

Chetoto is the Luhya name for the Marabou stork, a scavenger bird that preys on carcasses. Residents claimed that ugly appearance of the bird manifested itself in the low enrollment of pupils in the school.

Mukurewini Secondary School in Nyeri was similarly renamed from its former name - Kiangoma - after similar concerns that its poor performance was linked to its name which some locals interpreted as satanic. 

Chetoto Primary School
Chetoto Primary School
The Standard
  • . .