Skip to content
Back to search results

Nairobi (Kariokor) Cemetery

  • Country Kenya
  • Total identified casualties 56 Find these casualties
  • Identified casualties from Second World War
  • GPS Coordinates Latitude: -1.281077, Longitude: 36.838825

The problem of uninvited guests


Location: Nairobi, Kenya   Language: English / Swahili   Altitude: 1,657m   Rainfall: 1,062mm   
Temperature: 12°c - 28°c   Biggest challenge: Site encroachment

Upon arrival at Kariokor war cemetery, our staff know there is still work to be done before they even open the gates. They can hear the tell-tale sound of a hammer and nail.

This isn’t their colleagues at work, making repairs. The sound they’re hearing is someone nailing out a taut animal hide to dry, just metres away from a war grave.

A worker nails out animal hide within the grounds of CWGC's Kariokor Cemetery.

It’s one of a few businesses which have set up shop, without permission, in the war cemetery grounds in the Nairobi suburb named after the Carrier Corps of the First World War, many of whom were recruited from this neighbourhood.

Today, it’s where 59 African Second World War casualties are buried. Encroachment isn’t unique to Kenya. Around the world, as cities grow, many of the 23,000 locations at which we operate face challenges created by man-made expansion.

CWGC technical supervisor Daniel Achini speaks to those who have taken to using the cemetery for their tanning business.

At Kariokor, CWGC has been working carefully with local authorities to find the best long-term solution. One plan is to renovate the space into a memorial park, with more information to help people understand the history of the Africans buried there.

A key partner in helping to spread that story is the Museums of Kenya. Their interest in Nairobi (Kariokor) Cemetery saw them bestow it with their highest level of historical importance and ‘gazette’ the whole site as a heritage asset, a part of Kenya’s history as well as that of the Second World War.

CWGC archive photo of Kariokor Cemetery.

People trying to find space to set up their businesses aren’t the only uninvited visitors causing a problem for the Commission’s Kenya team.

Another unwanted guest in nearby Nairobi War Cemetery is something most European gardeners have probably never thought of protecting themselves against – monkeys.

“They come in and eat the plants,” said Daniel Achini, our senior technical supervisor out in Nairobi.

“The problem is that there is less food for them in the forest these days, so they come to the city looking for food. Our cemeteries are full of plants, lined up ready and waiting.”

The plants that survive the monkey invasions need constant care in order to survive the region’s occasional droughts. Guarding against unwanted visitors and reacting to changing weather patterns are all just a part of what it takes to make sure those who died on this soil aren’t forgotten.

“We know there’s still plenty of work to do,” said Daniel, “but, we’re on it.”

In Nairobi War Cemetery, monkeys often eat the plants, especially during the dry season when food is scarce.

Location information

Nairobi (Kariokor) Cemetery is located in the Kariokor district of Nairobi about 2 kilometres north-east of the city centre. The cemetery is on Kinyanini Street, which is directly across Kariokor Market, and approximately 250 metres past the Central Division District Commissioners offices. The cemetery entrance, which is set back on the right side of the road, is indicated by a CWGC direction sign.

Visiting information

The location or design of this site makes wheelchair access impossible. For further information regarding wheelchair access, please contact our Enquiries Section on telephone number 01628 507200.

Please note there have been reports of petty criminals/pickpockets operating in the vicinity of the cemetery. Visitors are strongly advised to be vigilant and not carry any valuables when visiting this site – May 2016.

History information

During the Second World War, Nairobi was the headquarters of the East African Force and the base for the conquest of Jubaland and what was then Italian Somaliland, the liberation of what was then British Somaliland and the sweep north-westwards to open Addis Ababa for the return of the Emperor. It was also a hospital centre; No.87 British General Hospital arrived in June 1943 and was still there in December 1945, while No.150 British General Hospital was there for a period in 1943.

Nairobi (Kariokor) Cemetery contains 59 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, three of which are unidentified.