Karen, Kenya

Karen is a suburb of Nairobi in Kenya, lying south west of the city centre.

It is generally believed that the suburb is named after Karen Blixen, the Danish author of the colonial memoir Out of Africa; her farm occupied the land where the suburb now stands. Blixen herself declared in her later writings that "the residential district of Karen" was "named after me". And Remy Martin, the developer who bought the farm in 1931 and converted it into residential lots for Nairobi's fast-growing population, confirmed that he named the neighborhood for Blixen.

The provenance of the name may in fact be more subtly complex. Blixen herself was known to her friends in Africa not as "Karen" but as "Tanne". The farm, a coffee plantation, was officially incorporated as the "Karen Coffee Company", and was owned by her extended family, most of whom lived in Denmark. The chairman of the board was her uncle, Aage Westenholtz. Westenholtz may have named the company after his own daughter, Karen.

It is possible that Martin gave the area the name "Karen" because he thought the name of the coffee company came from Blixen herself; he may not have been aware that the farm's official name was derived from a different Karen. Either way, in 1975, Martin confirmed for Judith Thurman, Blixen's biographer, that in calling the district "Karen", he was thinking of the farm's famous resident.

The suburb of Karen borders the Ngong Road Forest and is home to the Ngong Racecourse. It is also known for its large European population. Karen and Langata jointly form a somewhat isolated area of high-income housing.

Blixen's home is still standing and is a local tourist attraction. The Nyumbani Orphanage is also located in Karen.