Las Vegas: A History, Rugby, and Entertainment as Kenyans take over Sin City


For close to one week starting today (Could be earlier!), the City of Las Vegas in the state of Nevada will see a great influx of Kenyans, on a  mission to cheer the Kenya Rugby team-Shujaa, in the Rugby Sevens, US series.

As is the case with Kenyans, besides Rugby, there will be entertainment, a lot of it. Different promoters are doing the best they can to out the other stables. Who has the best package? We will find out.

“Las Vegas” is Spanish phrase for “The Meadows”. The original settlement grew up around a desert spring. The idea of Las Vegas took off in 1905 after San Pedro, Los Angles and Salt Lake Railroad auctioned 110 acres in the heart of what is now downtown Las Vegas.

Anticipating this auction, businessman Businessman “Pop” Squires and his wife Delphine travelled from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, and upon arrival, Squires is recorded to have described Las Vegas as follows:

“…with the vastness of the desert made glorious by the morning sun; the vivid glory of magnificent mountains enclosing the valley on all sides…”

Las Vegas would soon start getting national attention. Now settled in Las Vegas, Squires played a key role in encouraging congress to support the idea of building a dam on Colorado River. With the passing of the Boulder Canyon Project Act, Boulder Dam was constructed, which formed Lake Mead, the largest man-made U.S. lake and important in controlling Colorado River floods. Las Vegas started marketing itself as the “gateway to Boulder.”

With the Boulder project complete, tourists began flocking the city to witness the marvel that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had described as an “engineering victory of the first order.” Concurrently, the State of Nevada was reeling from the impact of the Great Depression. It was here that Nevada reversed a 1909 ban on Gambling. This was in the early 1940’s

While Nevada was relaxing regulation on gambling, Los Angeles, about 400 miles away, was cracking down on gambling. Los Angelinos keen on betting, booze and a few other sins, sought refuge in Las Vegas. Among the people who trickled to “The Meadow” was Meyer Lansky , who on arrival quipped this about gambling in Las Vegas:

“The winners are those who control the game; All the rest are suckers.”

in 1946, Flamengo Hotel was built in the modern day “strip” by a well known gambler, Billy Wilkerson. He named it “Flamengo” because the long legs of his showgirl Virginia Hill, reminded him of the water birds. And Las Vegas became the city of the birds, literally.

Now back to Rugby. Kenya will be in action Friday and Saturday for the preliminaries. Make sure to go cheer the home boys!

For the entertainment, these are your ptions

  1. CPR. Under the stewardship of Steve Mbugua, this is what they have to offer:

On Sunday, CPR also has this event featuring comedian Njoro.

2. Top Brass Entertainment:

Led by the versatile Vicpreston. They have lined up the following:

3. Kelly Ochieng will be lining up arguably the hottest musician in Kenya at the moment, Nyanshinski on Saturday. This is definitely going to be a sold out event.

4. Fully Focus;

The veteran DJ Fully Focus will also be on standby with the following:

  • Friday March 2nd-Chateau night club, Paris Casino (10pm-4am)
  • Saturday March 3rd: Hakkasan at the MGM Grand (10pm-4am)
  • Sunday, March 4th-Chateau Rooftop, Paris Casino (4pm-10pm)

Additional reporting by Karanja Gijunju!

African Warrior Magazine will be in Las Vegas! Be sure to catch us via We tell Diaspora stories in a way no other publication does.