Lifetime Memories in Kisumu, Kenya

Monday November 5 2018



The fascinating Lake Victoria peripherals, flanked by the warm waters rich in aquatic life and the spirit of the Luo community reflected through the friendly smiles of the locals, make Kisumu a must-go place for a holiday. My first time in Kisumu courtesy of the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) was not short of excitement. At the Grand Royal Swiss Hotel, on arrival, we were offered a glass of fresh juice and were entertained by a Luo traditional dance. The talents of the artists and performers captivated the senses of the visitors, frenzy women and men dancing in matching steps and styles. A young woman came forward to me breaking away from the traditional dance group, bowed, offered a handshake and invited me to dance. This was an extraordinary welcome for me, as a first-time visitor to Kisumu! From the traditional dance, I noticed that a timeless favourite of the locals is how keenly they are interested in introducing their wealth of culture to the visitors in a fun and celebratory mood. Kisumu is a food basket of Nyanza Region, according to Richard Okello a manager at the Grand Royal Swiss Hotel, famed for millet, maize, sugarcane, rice, cotton, cassava, groundnuts and sorghum. Kisumu is a corrupted translation from Kisumo which means a place where people went to get food supplies. So until today, Kisumu remains a hub of the Nyanza region for fishing, agricultural products and tourism. The next day we drove to visit Mama Sarah Obama in Kogelo. The Village now holds an international limelight on the world tourism map. On arrival, we were briefed and taken around the homestead by Ms Marsat Onyango, one of the family members. The history and transformation of the now popular village started since Obama’s victory in 2008 in the US presidential elections. Mama Sarah Obama, who is now aged 96 hosted us in a small house where Barack Obama, the former US president was served traditional vegetables and sat on a traditional stool in 2006. Now the house is a glistening bungalow with prestigious sofa sets and a flat TV screen. From Kogelo we drove to Kit Mikayi to familiarise ourselves with the Luo traditional history. Kit Mikayi is a rock formation which is 70 metres high and consists of three large stones laying on top of one another among many others. Locally Kit Mikayi means ‘‘stones of the first wife’’. Kit Mikayi is a cultural and heritage site which holds a special place in the Luo tradition visited repeatedly for religious beliefs by the locals and considered as a sacred place. The hiking took us through bushy rocks, in it we saw the caves where religious members come for prayers and offering sacrifices. Later, a female traditional dancer performed various songs which represent the spiritual significance connected to the site. From wonder to excitement, that’s how it is with Kisumu Cultural Museums, which was our first stop the following day. We were received and guided on a tour by David Okello. The Museum has a real treat for history lovers as well as an educational institution, allowing visitors to be inspired. The striking features of the museum, include a diverse collection of flora and fauna species. The traditional Luo homestead and other traditional Luo artefacts add flavour to the visit here. Impala sanctuary was our last site in Kisumu. It is a serene park found on the shores of Lake Victoria. On game viewing, we found the wild animals either grazing, sleeping or trotting. Lion, leopard and cheetah are caged to prevent them from preying on the wandering Zebras Impalas Buffalo and Hippo. The most admirable animal in the park is the Impala. The sanctuary is also a birdwatcher’s paradise. We had our tilapia lunch at the Lake view restaurant which is connected by a wooden bridge from the Impala Eco-lodge. E-mail: