In Summary
  • When a politician claims to have gathered one million people at Uhuru park, what he/she is saying is that one out of every three Nairobians showed up.
  • The average human being occupies a space measuring about 0.5m by 0.25m while standing up. This works out to 0.125 square metres per person.

Can one million people be accommodated in Uhuru Park?

This question always comes up whenever there is a major political event at this venue. The first time it came up was soon after the inauguration of former President Mwai Kibaki in December 2002.

The question came back again in the run-up to the 2007 General Election when the Orange Democratic Movement party held a campaign rally there. At that time, I did an estimate of the capacity of the main Uhuru Park arena and it turned out that the largest number of people that can occupy the park is about 60,000. My calculations were based on the crowd that had gathered for Kibaki’s 2002 inauguration – I had attended the ceremony.

For that reason, I will not repeat the calculation; anyone interested can fish it out from any public library. The article appeared on October 28, 2007. Today, I want to tackle the question from a different angle: how large is a crowd of one million people?

First let’s put that number into perspective: according to the 2009 census, the populations of Nairobi is about 3.1 million. This number includes everyone, from the youngest toddler to the oldest mzee!

So when a politician claims to have gathered one million people at Uhuru park, what he/she is saying is that one out of every three Nairobians showed up. Is that possible?

Granted, there are those who travel from other regions of the country to attend these rallies but the majority are from around Nairobi. The next question is, if one million people did show up, how much space would the crowd occupy?

The average human being occupies a space measuring about 0.5m by 0.25m while standing up. This works out to 0.125 square metres per person.

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