The Luo of Nyanza form the third largest community in Kenya. History suggests that they originated in Sudan from the region near Bahr el Ghazal and travelled down the Nile, in phases from around 500 years ago.
The Luo are part of the larger Nilotic community which include the Acholi and Langi in Uganda, while some settled further afield in Tanzania around the Mara area. The Luo in Kenya all live in the lands surrounding Lake Victoria. As such their early culture was deeply influenced by the beliefs that sprung around the supernatural powers of the lake.. This massive lake known as Lolwe by the indigenous Luo people forms a natural boundary between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Lake Victoria is also famous as the source of the Nile and is rich in fish life including the indigenous Tilapia, as well as the large Nile Perch introduced into the Lake from elsewhere.
Kisumu is a Kenyan Port city on the shores of Lake Victoria The history of Kisumu is intricately intertwined with the history of the building of the 900 km Great Uganda Railway. It was founded in 1901 when the railway finally reached Lake Victoria and was named Port Florence, in honour of the wife of a Railway Engineer who drove the last railway spike on the ground.
Today, the Lake is an important business centre serving the interests of communities that live in the Nyanza Region as well the whole of Western Kenya and even beyond to Uganda and Tanzania.
Kisumu Museum Tour
Kisumu Museum is an excellent place to learn about the history and culture of this region, with a fine collection of animal and ethnographic exhibits displaying the Luo way of life.
Ber gi Dala is the museum’s most important and largest exhibition. Sponsored by UNESCO, Ber-gi-dala is a full scale recreation of the original Luo homestead which consists the houses of his three (or more) wives , the house of his eldest son, the granaries and livestock kraals. Through signs and taped programs in both Luo and English, the exhibition also explains the origins of the Luo people, their migration to western Kenya, traditional healing plants and the process of establishing a new home.
The Impala Park Tour
The Kisumu Impala Park is a wildlife sanctuary which acts as a grazing ground to the many hippopotomi which inhabit the lake. Inside this park is found the rare Sitatunga antelopes which is a protected species in Kenya. Spread over an area just under one kilometre, the Impala Park also acts as an orphanage for young abandoned animals like cheetahs and baboons which visitors are able to see at close range. There is a beautiful eco lodge in the park where visitors can stay or enjoy lunch surrounded by the beauty the lake shore.
Ndere Island National Park
According to Luo legend Ndere (meeting place) is where the descendants of the Luo people rested for a while after a long journey down the Nile before moving on to other destinations. Ndere Island is today uninhabited , except for the large crocodiles, water antelopes, monitor lizards and hippos that are found in its waters. The island is famous for bird watching, hiking and basic camping tours. There are fishing boats along the shores which can be hired for boat rides to see other nearby islands or on fishing expeditions. Generally most visitors just relax in the serene surroundings and take hiking excursions before heading back to the city.
On the way from Ndere Island, drive via Kit- Mikayi (The rock of the first wife literally). There are many legends around this famous stone which is considered as a holy site by the local community and a worship centre by Members of the Legio Maria sect.
The stones have stood intact for generations and have never moved or been separated from each other even during violent earth tremours. A visit to Kit Mikayi will give you a chance to listen to the history behind the Rock Formation that “weeps” periodically during the year as water gushes down some 40 metres from the top. The locals believe that the waters have healing powers and many tourists from far and wide visit during these “weeping” periods to take away the waters considered to be sacred.Kit Mikayi was also a place of sacrifice among the original Luo people who offered sacrifices to appease the gods during times of famine and epidemics. Visitors have an opportunity to hear the interesting legends around the stone as told by a local guide.
For many tourists who come to this lakeside city, a visit to Kisumu is not complete without touching base with Nyang’oma Kogelo, the sleepy rural village which is home to Mama Sarah Obama, the paternal grandmother of the immediate former President of the United Stated of America.
The above excursions take no more than 1-2 hours each, and can be packed into a full day excursion or split into smaller more leisurely excursions over a two day visit.
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