Donholm Estate originated as an expansive farmland dedicated to rearing high-grade cattle imported from the UK into the country. In January 1908, Scottish farmer James Kerr Watson arrived in Nairobi and bestowed the estate with its name. To combat the monotonous landscape, Watson commenced his exploration by planting trees throughout the area. After successfully obtaining legal documents, he christened the vast land Doonholm Farm.
Watson explained that the name Doonholm was reminiscent of the picturesque banks and braes of the River Doon in Aysssire, Scotland. Subsequently, he constructed a two-storey house for his family, utilizing locally sourced materials for its establishment on Doonholm Farm. Engaging in cattle farming, Watson primarily focused on rearing Ayshire breeds. However, the farm’s purpose transitioned to that of an experimental facility after a disease outbreak.
Regrettably, Watson lost possession of the land in 1950 when the government acquired it to construct Embakasi Airport. The expanse of Doonholm Farm encompassed the present-day location of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, extending all the way to City Stadium. With Watson’s demise in 1955, the era of Doonholm Farm drew to a close.
In 1960, the government acquired additional land to widen Doonholm Road, now known as Jogoo Road, and subsequently constructed a feeder road connecting to Lunga Lunga Road. When naming the estates, a misspelling occurred, leading to “Donholm” becoming the official address for this suburban area.
Watson’s passion for constructing roads and houses was evident through several projects credited to his skills. He laid the foundation for Nairobi’s Kenyatta Avenue, being recognized for both its drainage system and road design. Additionally, Watson extended murram along Jogoo Road to facilitate the supply of milk from Doonholm Farm to the city, thereby earning praise for connecting the area to Nairobi.
Furthermore, Watson undertook the construction of the Kenya National Archives building and residential houses in Muthaiga before redirecting his focus to farming and leaving the construction industry behind.
Donholm in 2020s
Donholm is located within the larger Embakasi in Nairobi Eastlands area.
Houses within Donholm Estate, or Doni as popularly referred, consists of a standard four-bedroom bungalow design and five storey apartments in various courts. The estate has grown and is divided into phases. From Donholm Phase 1 to Donholm Phase 8 that borders Kayole Estate. The tall storey buildings in Donholm average asking rental price of about Sh25,000 per month for standard houses. One-bedroom apartments are about Sh20,000 and Sh30,000 for two bedroom apartments.
The constituency that encircles Donholm Estate is now Embakasi East is led by Paul Ongili aka Babu Owino since 2017. Mr Babu Owini’s main and bitter challenger has always been the youthful Francis Mureithi.
Donholm fell under the large Embakasi Constituency.
Past Members of parliament for the wider Embakasi are John David Kali (1963), B Mwangi Karungaru (1966 and 1969), Godfrey Muhuri Muchiri (1974 and 1983), Ezra H. Njoka (1974 and 1979), David Mwenje (1988, 1997 and 2002), Henry Ruhiu (1992), Mugabe Were (2007), and Ferdinand Waititu (2008).
Business and social life
The estate is a bit developed than Umoja and Kayole, only rivaled by Buruburu estate.
Donholm has better bult Mall, Naivas East Gate Mall borders Oiutering Road, There’s also the GreenSpan Mall that houses Naivas Foodmarket after the collaspse of Tuskys Supermarket.
Fast food joints are many in Donhom.
Donholm also has a number of bars and restaurants. Most youths are jobless and spend most part of the day especially in the evening drinking liquor or chewing khat. However, the ones who are creative enough can be served by the Calif Record music studio within the estate.
Donholm can be accessed from the Nairobi Central Business District (CBD)either through Jogoo Road and Outer Ring Road, where one has to either join Manyanja or Savanna road. The estate is served by matatus number 19, 61k and 34B. Taxis from the city centre will charge you Sh2,500, but from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, you will part with about Sh3,000. Donholm is also within the reach of several large supermarkets in Embakasi and Buruburu.
Major hospitals serving Donholm residents include Gertrude’s Garden Children’s Hospital at Donholm, the Wentworth Hospital, the Aga Khan Medical Centre and Mater Hospital in Buruburu. It’s also closer to a public hospital, the Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital in Kayole. Donholm residents can also easily access banks such as Bank of Africa, Standard Chartered, Family Bank, Cooperative Bank, Equity Bank and Absa in Industrial Area.
The security situation within Donholm is not as bad as its neighbors in Umoja and Kayole estates. By being near the crime-prone Kayole and Kariobangi areas. The Buruburu Police Station and the Kayole Police Post serve this estate. Residents of Donholm can also easily to report in incidences of insecurity in Umoja Tena Police post and Embakasi Police stations.
Donholm is predominantly Christian, but there are other religions too including Muslims and atheists.
Major churches serving the residents include St. Jude Catholic Church, Deliverance Church, Kenya Assemblies of God (KAG), Seventh Day Adventists and Mavuno Church.
Covering news about Eastlands especially Umoja, Kayole and Buruburu estates