Maralal: Town on contrast with no sympathy for sports infrastructure

Saturday August 01 2020

The VIP stand at Maralal Stadium that is crying for a coat of new paint in this photo taken on July 27, 2020. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP


When you mention great things that Maralal Town in Samburu County is famous for, besides its spectacular tourist attraction sites, two things come to mind.

First, Kenyatta House, a historic three-bedroomed bungalow that holds great significance to Kenya’s independence struggle.

This where Kenya’s first President, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, was partly detained by the British colonial government.

Second, Maralal town is also popular venue for the annual Maralal International Camel Derby.

This is Kenya’s best known and prestigious camel race that also attracts both amateur and professional competitors.

The unique event is the only sporting activity that brings this desert town set on a hillside to life as it is a great attraction for many international visitors and local tourists.


The town instantly becomes a kaleidoscope of colours, noise and fashion as locals and international tourists mingle freely, share fun and experience Samburu culture at its best.

The race is a great social event and stands as one of the major attractions of Maralal town that is starved of any major event on its local sports and cultural calendar. 

When a caravan of heaving camels arrives in town with jockeys in tow, Maralal comes to a standstill as spectators line the streets to cheer the entourage.

However, the annual race, which was programmed to be held this Friday, will miss out this year due to the coronavirus pandemic that has disrupted sporting activities across the country. 

The culturally rich county, often described as the northerly gem globally, is associated with the Born Free movie which has put the county, and country, on the global map.

The county is also blessed with abundant wildlife and has some of breathtaking touristic sites that any lover of nature walk would like to sample, such as the Samburu National Reserve, home to the rare “Samburu special five” - grevy zebra, Somali ostrich, gerenuk, giraffe and beisa oryx - and large predators such as lions, leopards and the cheetah.

Kenya is famous for bush trips and Samburu County a preferred destination as it is also known for hosting some of the best Kenya game lodges and bird-watching sites, among other attractions.

However, even with all these spectacular attractions, and with such rich history, Maralal Stadium, which is located in the heart of this town, is a decaying fast.