Prehistoric Gold County of Migori

Kenya doesn’t fall short of surprises, from one day to the next. Isn’t it befitting that as we celebrate our 50 years of independence past, we lay claim to the world’s most powerful president-Barrack Obama (er… fruit of Kenyan loins… teehee!!), the first African Woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize-the Late Wangari Maathai, and now for the first time ever, our very own Oscar Award Winner in the form of one Lupita Nyongo??!! And yes, she’s Kenyan (bred, brought up and trained), and that’s our story and we’re sticking to it! And isn’t it even more amazing that on the very date Wangari’s Award was being celebrated, Lupita received hers (3rd March)? Am sooo Jivuniaring (brimming with Kenyan pride)!! I hear the kikuyus were claiming a certain ‘Ruthpeter Thiongo’ won an Oscar… I don’t blame them; people the world over are also having a hard time pronouncing her names! J

So focusing on the Westside of Kenya (from whence Obama and Lupita’s ancestors hail), I may have another surprise for you about this great and beautiful country. Did you know that there’s a prehistoric site that dates back 500 years? A site that existed 200 years before the Luopean community settled in the area? And no, it’s got nothing to do with Neanderthal Man or Homo-somebody that lived millions of years ago…!! Let’s learn more about a little known architectural wonder of that time, let’s … Escape! J

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Prehistoric & Gold County Migori

The County of Migori is on the extreme West of Kenya, to the South of Lake Victoria, and one can’t say you hear much about it from day ot day. The inhabitants are quite cosmopolitan, since the Capital, Migori, serves as in important link between Kenya and Tanzania. It has a vibrant cross-border economy and if you are ever around there somewhere wondering what to do or see, here are just a few to consider:

  1. Go back in time at Thimlich Ohinga – Estimated to be 500 years old, the site was declared a National Monument way back in 1981. According to the National Museums of Kenya: ‘Thimlich Ohinga’, literally refers to a “frightening dense forest” in Luo. The stone structure enclosure of walls ranging from 1.0 to 4.2 meters in height were built of loose stones and blocks without any dressing or mortar, and the archaeological record of materials found within the site go beyond 500 years ago (even older than 400-year old Fort Jesus). The claim is that this style of architecture resembles the Great Zimbabwe, and was built and inhabited by indigenous folks (probably Bantus) before they moved on (Southward maybe?). It’s an adventure to make a visit and learn the way homesteads were organised way back when, tools used and escape route designs (as well as allow your imagination run wild about life then). It would be ideal to pitia (pass by) enroute Ruma National Park or the Mara, or any of the other interest sites described below, depending on your direction.
  2. Prospect for Gold at Macalder Mine – Yes, indeed… the real deal! Although I’d have to add ‘at your own risk’! Painstaking, tedious, persistent, hope-filled work, the few ‘owners’ toil day and night to find and isolate the treasures therein. You are better off watching them work than joining them! It is said that somewhere on the site yielded around 1 million ounces of gold between 1920 and 1950. It was then shut down in the sixties. Apparently the left over’s from the excavations are still full of precious minerals that were unable to be extracted at the time, due to technology and economic viability. You could consider this a worthwhile business venture: dig for gold, shoot a dramatic movie set in way-back-when times, or just enjoy marvelling at the current goings on…
  3. migori2See the Hydroelectric plant at Gogo Falls – Currently run by KenGen, the plant was commissioned in 1957 with the main reason being to supply power to the Macalder Mine. It is located about 45 km from Migori town, sits on River Kuja and the surrounding Kuja Basin is at an altitude of about 1220m in an area of gentle undulating topography. At the very least, enjoy the spectacular view of the highlands in the region, as well as the sheer drop of the waters at the site.
  4. Sail to Peaceful Migingo Island – Wikipedia describes it as ‘a tiny 2,000 m2island, about half the size of a football pitch, in Lake Victoria’. The first time many of us heard about it was when war nearly broke out between Kenya and Uganda over its ownership. Apparently the fight was simply over one thing: Fishing rights! Its location is not in dispute – in widely available maps, old and new, it squarely lands to the right of the Kenya-Uganda border. However, the current Ugandan president declared that the surrounding waters are Ugandan, so all fish (and related lucrative rights) belong to them?!! Yeah, right! Reportedly there were 131 inhabitants at last count (2009), whose main occupation revolves around… well, fishing (what else is there to do?)! They are served by four pubs, a number of brothels, and a pharmacy on the island (important details, right?). A peace deal was signed last September, as well as agreements of joint representation by both countries on various management structures. So fear not, all is well for inhabitant and tourist alike. J

So there you have it. Some may be wondering where this Migori is, while others are like oooooh…! if only I knew this before…?! Next time you are in that direction, take a moment to look around and make it a worthwhile… Escape! J

Posted in County Travel Blog.

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