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The tale of a date,Wanjala and Kakamega Forest.

My name is Prexidis, I live in Lubao. Lubao is about six Kilometers from Kakamega town. My little town is famed for being the largest auction market for dogs and cats in Eastern and Central Africa. I don’t like talking much about myself but following an experience I recently had, allow me this once to tell you a story.

My Fiancé’s  name is Wanjala. We went to school together at Muhonje Secondary School years back.He was two years ahead of me. He was a sharp guy and soon after finishing his O level education, he was admitted to Kaimosi Teachers Training College.I can’t wait for the day I will be called bibi ya mwalimu.

Last weekend Wanjala was in the village. What I like most about his visits is his love for travel and creativity in finding areas that we can spend time alone as we discuss intricate details of our future together. He is a wanderer. He also likes taking photos with ‘our’ mobile phone. Our Samsung Galaxy Pocket. This phone changed our status in the village. He promised to give me that phone in December when he buys himself a Tecno phone.

Our date was on Saturday. Venue, Kakamega Forest. I have never been to Kakamega Forest.But from what Wanjala told me, it is the only tropical rain forest in Kenya and is said to be Kenya’s last remnant of the ancient Guineo-Congolian rainforest that once spanned Africa.To add on it,it is home to about 380 species of trees,330 species of birds, about 27 species of snakes and 7 species of primates,more than 400 species of butterflies and several species of mammals.. Wanjala will make a brilliant teacher!

The map of Kakamega Forest.

I woke up early that Saturday Morning. I was told that it was the best time to see lots of birds. The sun was unusually hot that morning and Matendechere my bodaboda guy took so long. We had agreed to meet up at exactly 8:00 am. Wanjala was not going to be amused.

I decided to just walk to the main road, hoping to catch another rider coming from the south. Arimis and red clay soil don’t go so well, normally I’d wait for Matendechere but on this occasion, it was impossible,I had to get there quick.

Lady luck shone on me and in an hour I was right at the gate of Kakamega Forest National Reserve. Wanjala wasn’t so impressed. But he was happy to see me.

Dearest Wanjala;My heartbeat.
Entrance into Kakamega Forest.

He paid Ksh.600 park entry fee for both of us.

It was unbelievable that I hadn’t visited the forest despite being a local. We were assigned one guide whose expansive knowledge in plant and tree species amazed me. We never saw any birds though, just heard them chirping in the woods.I guess it was too late to bird watch.

Beautiful flora and fauna, cheeky black and white colobus monkeys, fresh air, breathtaking views and a general good feel in the air.

This was the first time Wanjala held my hands in ‘public.’ The feeling was magical.

Staircase to natural beauty.

Our first stop was the Udo’s Bandas. This is where their bandas and campsite were located. The accommodation had traditional huts and modern units.The bandas cost Ksh. 3000 per night while the traditional huts cost Ksh. 1000 per night.There was also another option of coming with your own tent and camp for Ksh. 500.

The next stop was Mukangu trails, along which were tens of labeled trees. We soon approached the oldest tree in the forest. I had never seen such a tall tree before. This was where our great great great grandparents use to pray to their ancestors and offer sacrifices.

Oldest tree in Kakamega Forest.

From there we did a steep hike to the view point of Buyangu Hill! The hike was exhausting but the view at the top was worth every drop of sweat. Wanjala promised to buy me a piece of land at the end of the forest. The furthest end where the horizon met the hills. The future looked so bright. He promised to bring me to Kakamega forest, why would I doubt that he will buy me that piece of land…

We were told that this is also the best location to catch the most breathtaking Sunset!

Wide view from Buyangu hill.

Somewhere beyond the hills,lies my piece of land.

The walk downhill wasn’t as tiresome as the way up. The narrow terrain opened up to the other part of the forest. It was picturesque.

There was a further ten kilometers to be covered to get to the small but lovely Isiukhu fall. I was getting thirsty and tired at this point. But the guide promised that a walk to Isiukhu will be the end of the trip. I couldn’t wait to see the water fall.Luckily,Wanjala had carried water in his backpack. It saved the day.

After about an hour or so, we could hear the sound of water gushing and falling hard on rocks beneath. I kept wondering how the sight was.

Well, I wasn’t disappointed when we got there.

Isiukhu fall.

Isiukhu fall.

Kakamega Forest has so much to offer.

Despite the exhaustion,this was one trip I wish I took earlier. I can’t thank Wanjala enough for making it happen. We spent quality time together, learnt new stuff and looking forward to spending more time together in this lovely County of ours. He even promised to take me to Lake Bogoria. I only read about it in GHC back in Primary school and sincerely I can’t wait.

If you have not been to Kakamega forest before, make a point to go. You will love It!

Till the next blog post…

Love and Itchy feet…

B on safari.

 

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Fantastic photos that will inspire you to visit Meru County, Kenya.

I was in Meru County briefly over the weekend all the way to Isiolo for those random weekend plans. Hoping to plan a detailed safari soon and share the goodness.

In the meanwhile enjoy these lovely shots that should inspire you to visit Meru!

What are some of the places you’d recommend one to visit in Meru?Let’s engage …

See you soon in Meru soon ?!

Love and wanderlust,

B on Safari ??.

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The crocodile scarers of Chebloch Gorge-Elgeyo Marakwet(Kenya)

A trip from Kabarnet town  of Baringo County to Iten (Elgeyo Marakwet County) via the Kabarnet-Iten-Eldoret Highway is not complete if you dont make a stop at Chebloch gorge.

Chebloch gorge is a major tourist attraction in the area and also acts as a boundary between the two counties.

Kerio river from the nearby Elgeyo escarpments  cuts into the gorge especially during the rainy season to depths more than 20 meters.

 

At the time of visit, drought had hit the area and the level of water had dropped significantly inside the gorge.

A few years back Chebloch gorge made headlines in Kenya for having youth in the area diving into the gorge to earn a living. Being a tourist attraction, the young men quickly came up with theatrics to entertain guests by diving in the crocodile infested river at a fee. We were charged Ksh.500.00 for each diving act.

According to a funny tour guide I spoke to, a local, crocodiles almost die from heart attack and flee for dear life when the young men dive sharply into the river.

A part from the magnificent view of the gorge with a backdrop of the Elgeyo escarpment, there are other fun things to do like interacting with  the locals, a village tour, and  swimming in Kerio river (well the rocky shallow ends with no crocodiles.)

I remember having small talk with a lady who was selling tasty mangoes a few meters from the bridge. We quickly clicked because of her warm character and in no time she was talking me into buying ‘Damaris’. I struggled for a while trying to figure out what that was until she she pulled a basket under her mango stall and handed me a handful of Tamarinds!

Apart from Damaris, young boys can also be seen peddling fish from the river.

If there is one place I have made a brief stop during my travels and felt the warmth of the locals, then it must be Chebloch.

The Kenyan Western circuit is adorned with breathtaking sites, warm people, a wide selection of accommodation options, an endless list of fun things to do and generally good vibes.

Have you visited Chebloch before? What was you experience? Would you like to visit Chebloch? Let me know as well…

Love and wanderlust,

B on Safari ?

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Rusinga Island Lodge: An island retreat to rekindle your love this Valentines.

Rusinga Island Lodge is a little kept secret. An oasis of love and romance. So hidden that until you get into the lodge you won’t exactly know what lies behind the walls.

The lodge came in highly recommended as one of the best destinations to unwind and rekindle love at the Kenyan ‘west coast.’

An airstrip,manicured lawns,happy host and the aroma of delicious food as you walk in gives a rough idea of how the general stay will be. I finally understood why it was highly recommended. I mean, if love and all other things were constant I think a combination of a wedding and honeymoon in the same venue would work perfectly.

The lodge boasts of some many beautiful things; like a lovely sunrise,

Lovely sunrise.

Pleasant lake front view,

Lake front view.
Lake front view.

Green carpet grass,

Carpet grass

Indigenous trees,

Decades old indigenous trees.

Breathtaking canopies that try to hide the sun from above and cute  birds of varied species,

Birdie
More birds

Porch swings,

Garden furniture made from hard wood,

A long,firm impressive pier,

The pier!

The signature cushions on a raised view point overlooking the lake,

And a few palm trees dotting the shoreline.

 

Rusinga island lodge is the perfect place to pause time, forget the city and teach yourself how to breath fresh air again. Bliss.

As this valentines draws near, this is the place to visit with your better half.

Romantic set up,privacy guaranteed, self contained spacious cottages with furnished patios that are suitable for a quiet cuddly evening overlooking the lake.

If you are a sporty and adventurous pair, the lodge can organize water sport activities like kayaking,

fishing,



a ride to neighboring islands for sight seeing, bird watching or photography.

Other activities are;an organized game drive to Ruma National Park(Kenya’s only home of the Roan Antelope), a visit to Takawiri Island, the palmy Island with a white sandy beach on Lake Victoria.

 

Book a stay at Rusinga Island lodge and have an adventurous stay as you unravel this hidden gem with your loved one this valentines.

Rusinga Island Lodge has an airstrip right inside the lodge and together with Fly 540, they have a fantastic  flying package.It doesn’t get cooler than this does it? Contact them today for bookings  at: info@rusinga.com, or Tel: +254 20 2531314 / 5 and Cell: +254 716 055924 / +254 734 402932 / 0733 – 121148.

For a road or self drive package,contact Saiwa Safaris, via email on  holidays@kenyasafarisaiwa.com or saiwasafaris@gmail.com Mobile: +254 702 137 100/ +254 738 142 177 for bookings as well.

 

Hope you enjoy your stay!

 

 

 

 

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Dion Van Aardt- The Travelpreneur who tells his travel stories with pictures.

This month on the traveler, I spoke to Dion Van Aardt. Dion is an avid traveler with stunning travel pictures that ignites the wanderlust bug in all of us. He shared his travel experiences, how it all started and his travel goals.

Who is Dion?

I am a thirty six year old Kenyan,but was born in Zimbabwe. My family fled from Europe in the 1700’s for Southern Africa in search of a better life and we are all still here!

 

What inspired you to start traveling?

My family has always been quite nomadic and in fact my great grandparents came to settle in Eldoret,Kenya during the great trek from South Africa.It took them 3 years to get here. So I think it is in my blood to always have an itchy foot!

Again,my parents used to take us on lots of camping trips and mountain hiking adventures in Zimbabwe and encouraged us to make life exciting.

Are you a solo traveler?

I prefer to travel with a few friends because it is more fun.Moreover, it helps with cost sharing making the trip cheaper!

Do you travel full time or part time?

I travel part time

Are you a photographer as well? You have nice travel photos in your social media pages!

I started taking photos the time Kenya suffered security issues both in Lamu and Nairobi – my intention was to shift focus from the problem at hand and just showcase Kenya as the stunning place it is.Then three years ago I decided to take up photography as a hobby.I have since practiced taking photos.As of last year I had already taken slightly more than 38,000 photos. From those, I always get a few nice ones that I use on my social media pages. I am getting better at it and I hope one day I will call myself a photographer. As at now, it is  a hobby because I still have so much to learn.

I love Instagram because I have learnt a lot from other people, while having a platform to showcase the photos of the different places I have been to.

How old were you when you went for your first solo international travel? 

I was nineteen. I went to the UK to work and become rich and famous. However,I ended up living in a tent in Henley on Thames waiting on tables for 6 months!I moved around UK working and living in all sorts of places from the lake district to Suffolk where I worked as a tractor driver.

How many countries have you been to

Twenty four.

What is the longest time you’ve been away from home during travel?

Three months – I had traveled to the USA.

How do you finance your travels?

When I was younger I did odd jobs in the UK to save money to go away over the weekends.Then I moved to Kenya where I ran Kizingo;a small lodge on Lamu island. When it closed because of the rains for 3 months, I spent all the money I had saved from the trade on the island to go abroad.Now I am older and I prefer traveling around Kenya and Zimbabwe because we have so much to see and do so close to home.

What is your favorite extreme sport?

I love Rock climbing!

What has been your lowest moment during travel?

I had driven from Harare to Johannesburg when my car got stolen with all my luggage and passport in it!

What do you like most about travel?

I love getting a tiny taste of what it feels to belong to another place that is not familiar to me. I also like tough hikes and adventures that takes one off the beaten track and from the comfort zone. Such experiences makes that glass of wine and hot shower feel so much better when you get home!

Which of the countries you have visited so far that in your opinion has the warmest people?

I am a biased man so I will say Kenya and Zimbabwe but other than these places,I have to say the other friendly place I have ever been to is the USA. It is  the best country as far as I am concerned for solo travelers. People invite you to stay in their homes after just meeting you.

Are you luxury or budget traveler? 

Budget! Always.

Would you consider yourself a tourist or a traveler?

I like to think of myself as a traveler but when I start taking pictures I probably look very much like an annoying tourist!

What is in your bucket list?

I really want to climb the Ruwenzoris, explore the Mathews mountains in Northern Kenya and see the Gorillas in Congo. I would also like to Visit and hike in Northern Greece.

Can you share with us some of your travelutions for this coming  year?

I plan to hike the Ruwenzori’s, do a walk from Mount Ololokwe to the Mathews mountains, then Cherang’any Hills and visit Eldoret where my granddad and my parents were all born. I am also keeping an open mind for other adventures. Any suggestions are always welcome!

Best travel moments in the past year?

I did a wonderful five day hike in the Eastern highlands of Zimbabwe called the Turaco Trail. I enjoyed hiking to the top of the Mount Ololokwe recently well as.My latest Trip was a visit to Isaqbini in Garissa County to find the Hirola Antelope!

Best life lessons you’ve picked from travel? 

Try to always keep an open mind and everywhere has something to offer even if it is just to provoke you to think differently. Adventure is a mindset.

You don’t need to travel to the other end of the world to have a great adventure.

If you are not traveling what else do you do?

I have to sadly work!I run Kizingo lodge in Lamu part time and as a project manager in Ruiru.

Have you checked out Dion’s photos on Instagram? If not, check here.

Do you any questions you’d like Dion to answer about travel? Hit him up on the comment section below.

Who else do you want to talk about their travels, let me know on the comments section as well!

Happy reading!

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Litare Fishing Village-Litare Island,Homabay Kenya.

Rusinga Island Lodge is a luxurious, lake front private lodge in one of the Islands of Lake Victoria called Rusinga.

In my recent visit to the Lodge after several recommendations and months of drooling on pictures of the lodge I saw online, I finally got an opportunity to spend a few days there.

Intrigued by the manicured lawns, indigenous trees, lake breeze, an extended pier into the lake, delicate and tasty exterior design and the cosy rustic interior design, I was more than excited to call this my home for the next few days.

On the second day of my stay, the Lodge organized a day’s excursion to a neighboring fishing village called Litare.

Rusinga Island Lodge so far tops in my list of the most organized destinations I have been to.

By 9:00 am in the morning, the speed boats used to ferry us to the fishing village were already on location. Traditional boats can also be used to get to the village but for that superstar feel, the speedboats are the best. They also navigate better when the tides are high.

Litare Fishing Village is located on a nearby Island, approximately thirty minutes away.

As you approach the village, you will spot many fishing boats docked during the day because the fishermen mostly fish at night.

Little egrets can also be seen in their numbers neatly perched on the boats. Our guide was quick to point out that they  were the laziest bird on the island. They patiently wait to eat the tiny fish brought in by the fishermen.

During the day, it is difficult to see the men of the village. We were told that they only get to catch their sleep during this time of the day, after a long night out in the cold fishing.

The women can be seen drying the fish in large mats outside as a method of preservation before vendors and buyers come for them after a day or two.

There are three types of fish caught by the fishermen. Nile perch, Dagaa(Omena) and Fulu (Similar to Dagaa but bigger in size).

Most of the fishermen leave their homes and come to rent houses in the fishing village but they get to visit their homes from time to time.

Our guide told is that the fishermen are nomadic in nature and the follow the fish patterns as they migrate.

Fishing is the main economic activity in this village.There are so many fishing villages in Homabay County alone.

The fishing boats used by the fishermen are made from Mahogany and Mvuli hardwoods. This wood is imported from Uganda. The approximate cost of wood for one fishing boat is approximately Ksh.30,000(USD 300).

Boats

Fishing is done at night using locally hand-made traps. The traps are anchored into the water with the upper side floating on water, then a lantern lamp is attached at the top and the other side is tied to the boat.

The lantern lamp attracts insects such as lake flies at night. When the insects get in touch with the lantern lamp’s hot surface, they die and fall into the water then are used as bait to attract the fish.

As we left the fishing village, the women were busy cooking for their hungry men to get them ready for the next fishing trip.

Did I mention how thrilled I was to ride in a speed boat?

Have you been to a fishing village before? Which one did you like most? Is it similar to Litare? I am curious, let me know!

To enjoy an experience like mine reach Rusinga Island Lodge via;

E-mail : info@rusinga.com

Tel: +254 20 2531314 / 5

Cell: +254 716 055924 / +254 734 402932

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rusinga-Island-Lodge-899854163421465/

Twitter: @RusingaLodgeKE

 

 

 

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I received The Versatile Blogger Award!

I love travel.

I started this travel blog in February 2016 to document and share my travel experiences. Last month, I was honored to receive The Versatile Blogger Award nomination from Zoe of Zo Around the world.

Zoe a self confessed over-organised travel planner has been to over 20 countries and three continents so far.Her blog is a collection of her travel experiences that focus on providing budget travel advice together with off the beaten path locations and itineraries. Travel has become part of Zoe’s life and she hopes to show her readers how travel can be a part of their lives too.

The Versatile Blogger Award  is an award given to bloggers by bloggers as a fun way to discover new blogs.

As part of the rules of nomination, I am now sharing with you seven random facts about me.

  1. I started blogging seven years ago but brought down my creative writing blog to start this travel blog.
  2. I take an average of 15 photos a day.(Of everything else apart from Selfies)
  3. I have always wanted to be a lawyer.
  4. I enjoy being alone 90% of the time.
  5. I don’t like alcohol.
  6. I have never set an alarm to wake me up.
  7. I love electronics and I own a tool box.

I now nominate:

1. Elisabeth Bunch of Pages of my passport.

Libs as some people call her is originally from the Pacific Northwest.She began exploring the planet in the year 2012.Since then,she has been to 84 cities,18 countries and 4 continents.She speaks Spanish,Italian and some French. Her wish is to share her adventures and inspire someone to start their journey in travels.

2. Sarah Rbz of Wanderlust Vegans.

Sarah’s blog is about is traveling and all the wonderful vegan finds she  encounters on her  journeys.She currently lives  in South Korea and hopes to explore all vegan options around her.

3. Harsh of Wanderers Hub.

Wanderers Hub is a travel blog by Prerna & Harsh who are trying to make the most of their weekends and annual leaves to explore India and beyond. Their plan is to visit the less explored places, travel slow, get taste of the local life, and tick big adventures off their bucket-list.

4. Alana Mary of Family Bites Travel

Family Bites Travel blog by Mary was started to teach their kids to be socially-responsible, environmentally-protective and culturally-aware world citizens. Their aim is to broaden peoples minds with a slim wallet and open-heart!

5. Nathan of Foodie Flashpacker.

Nathan Aguilera is from Oklahama city. He has been away from home for nearly three years now and has since been to fifty countries, dove some of the best dive sites in the world, attended some unforgettable festivals, met some of the most incredible people from all over the globe and discovered his passion for food and wine.

6. Perrine Muller of Details of Perrine.

Perrine is a French girl who got bit by the wanderlust bug and fuses her travels with fashion!

7. Melissa Hamilton of Honeybadventures.

Melissa is the true reflection of everything and anything is possible if you put mind on it and trust God in all your doings. She has lived the expat life and her inspiration to travel comes from her past experiences,loss of her brother and the need to debunk the myth that travel is for the rich!

A big congratulations to my nominees and all the best as they share with us there random facts and nominate other bloggers.

 

 

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Takawiri Island, the most beautiful island on Lake Victoria,Kenya

White sandy beaches,palm trees, cool breeze and turquoise waters are synonymous with the Kenyan coastline only…Well that is what I thought until recently when I visited one of the islands of Lake Victoria that is on the Kenyan side.

Lake Victoria(commonly known as Nam Lolwe in Dholuo) was named after Queen Victoria by John Hanning Speke in 1858 who was on a mission to find out the source of River Nile;the Longest River in Africa.

The characteristic feature of most of the small islands are narrow brown silt beaches where fishermen dock their boats during the day,narrow foot paths that go up the gentle slopes to the fishermen villages, women washing clothes and utensils on the shores,young girls fetching water for home use,children swimming at the shallow end of the waters and  occasionally separate groups of men and women bathing.

With more than nineteen islands on Lake Victoria that have been well documented, very little information is available on Takawiri Island:the unique island with a white sandy beach and palm trees.

A boat ride from Rusinga island takes about an hour to get to Takawiri Island. During the hour long ride, we spot a few fishermen casting their nets and our guide advises us to greet them. Most of them gladly reciprocate, a few did not. They looked unhappy. It is easy to spot different species of birds as they lazily glide above us.

It was almost impossible to believe our guide who kept assuring us of the island with a white sandy beach ahead of us. Call me a doubting Thomas but with the islands and beaches I had seen in the area,there was no way I could believe a white sandy beach existed on these sides.

Typical beaches in the region.
Typical island forms.
Typical beach. Usually a bit rocky.
Most beaches are characterized by children swimming,women washing and docked boats.

About forty minutes into the boat ride,the guide announced we were approaching Takawiri Island. The doubting Thomases stretched out their necks to catch a glimpse of the ‘promised land.’

At first, I thought my eyes were playing games on me. But as we approached the island all doubts were thrown out into the lake! I was speechless. Were those palm trees, white sand, and blue waters? Hold up, we must have used a different route to get to Indian ocean! but which one? This was too good to be true.

Takawiri from a distance.
Well yes…They were palm trees.

Was that sand as well, like white sand?

The Phelps in me wanted to dive into the lake and swim to the beach but I remembered the boat was faster and calmed down.

On getting to the beach, we all jumped out of the boat in excitement just to have a feel and touch of the beach before it ‘dissapperared’ in case it was just a dream.

The hot crystalline sand between our toes, the cool breeze on our faces, the whistling palm trees, the calm birds and the soothing sound of the gentle waves crashing on the shore. I think whoever said dreams come true had us and Takawiri in mind.

Palm trees sashaying to the rhythm of the cool breeze,turquoise waters and a beautiful shade.

 

Easy birds.

 

Other birds chose to glide.

On the other side of the island the view was to die for again!

The other view of the island.

What we did not know was that there was also a resort at the island called Takawiri Island Resort. Please note that on getting to the beach, the hotel charges five hundred shillings per person because it is private property.

The resort has cottages, a restaurant and construction of camping grounds was underway at the time of visit. I will make a point of staying at the hotel the next time I visit Takawiri and share a review.

 

 

Everything in Takawiri is refreshing. The location, ambiance, nature and the people. For the first time ever, I felt as if my photos were doing the place injustice.

Takawiri is the master of all fine things. ‘Coastal’ feel at the lakeside, bird watching paradise, photography grounds, beach hotel, perfect place to catch the sunset, fishing grounds and generally a place to just chill, read a book, meditate and see life in its natural,pure form.

Takawiri turns even the most basic of photos to a masterpiece.

 

The back side of Takawiri from which you can see the sun set.

 

Best location to just sit and and relax.

 

Birds everywhere.

 

Who cares about city life when you have Takawiri?

Finally as I always say, pack your bags already. Visit Takawiri before everyone finds out this hidden gem.

Till next time!

Love and light.

 

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The 5th Edition of Rusinga Cultural Festival

Every last Thursday and Friday before Christmas, a colourful event dubbed the Rusinga Festival takes place in Rusinga Island,Kenya.

Rusinga Island is one of the numerous islands on Lake Victoria and is approximately six to seven hours drive from Nairobi the capital of Kenya.  The other alternative routes from Nairobi is by flight to Kisumu then connecting to Mbita by road through Ahero-Katito-KenduBay-Homa Bay then to Mbita or use a ferry direct from Kisumu to Mbita.

The Island  is one of the important archaeological sites in Kenya where fossils and the skull of Procunsul  Africanus was found by Mary Leakey.

The Island is an ideal bird watchers paradise with one hundred species of birds having been recorded with a good number of them termed as endangered. It is also the best place to see giant monitor lizards;bigger in size than most seen in the entire region.

The Suba people.

The Abasuba are a sub-tribe of the Bantu people of East Africa. It is estimated that there are just about  a hundred thousand (100,000) Subanese left.The shrinking of the Suba culture is attributed  to cultural blending from the larger Luo tribe through intermarriages and interactions.

History has it that the Suba were kicked  from Uganda and settled in the islands of Mfangano and Rusinga in Kenya by the then Kabaka   (King of the Kingdom of Buganda) because of witchcraft. According to one of the curators  at the Abasuba Community Peace Museum, witchcraft and rainmaking are still practiced, however at a small proportion.

The Festival.

The Rusinga Cultural Festival is a story, a journey and a celebration of the Abasuba people who use this platform to tell the world who they are and the need to preserve their already endangered culture.

The 5th edition of the festival attracted a mammoth crowd of enthusiastic participants, exhibitors, organizers and attendees. Driving through Rusinga island, it is almost impossible to imagine the entire population seen at the festival were from the neighboring villages that seemed scarcely populated…well from an outsiders eyes.

The event held at Kamasengre Primary School grounds was full of sparkle, fun and zest.

At first when I visited the grounds on the eve of the event, I went to bed convinced that there wasn’t really much to see at this festival. I doubted I was going to even enjoy myself.

Fast forward to the festival date… a massive transformation had taken place! There were people everywhere trying to catch a glimpse of the main event, music, entertainers, media from all corners and generally good vibe in the air.

Then there were a particular group of dancers that definitely stole the show with their energetic dances. Their traditional costumes,sunny smiles and coordinated moves pulled everyone to them every time they performed.

 

The curious crowd.

 

Energetic traditional dancers

While the traditional dances songs and story telling sessions went on at the main arena, exhibitors showcased Suba culture at different levels in the white tents at the peripheries.Food,fashion, literature and traditional artifacts like pottery,woodwork,basketry were exhibited.

As the program would have it, the dance groups were to lead the procession to a nearby beach called Luore to witness the boat race. This was most irresistible part of the entire festival. In no time I was part of the group singing and dancing through  the villages calling on more villagers and visitors to join us.

Swelling crowd.

 

Calling on villagers to join the procession.
Crowd waiting for the boat race.

The Rusinga Cultural Festival’s boat race is an event on its own that attracts an even larger crowd. Dozens of people joined the procession as we traversed through the villages. In a few short minutes,as everyone else approached the beach, there was yet another larger crowd patiently waiting for the race to start.

It is all song and dance as the competing groups prepare to start the race.

Lakeside entertainment
More entertainment

The most impressive attribute of the organizers of Rusinga Festival is time keeping.Events ran smoothly and within the scheduled time. The boat race was not an exception either.It started on time.

Never in my life have I ever seen so much vivacity. During flag off, loud cheers and clapping filled the air as the teams put their best paddles forward. Defeat was not an option here… evidently.Especially when there was money to be won.

Boat Race

The adrenaline, sweat and determination yielded narrow wins and worthy losers. Everyone broke into dance and jubilation again, singing traditional songs  of victory in favor of the winning teams and their boats.

After the exciting boat race, the crowd then matched up again to Kamasengre school grounds where wrestling ,tug of war, ajua and other teams were preparing.

It was during the Rusinga Festival that I watched a live wrestling match. Nothing compared to what we see on TV.The heart beat that comes with watching a live match in action is uncontainable. There is a mix of fear and thrill all in one. It is a nail biting experience.

The Suba men have energy and endurance. I also discovered that wrestling  is a mind game.

Wrestling

As wrestling went on, the older men were battling their wits with Ajua; a popular gambling board game that originated in Kenya and is played in some parts of East Africa as well.

Tug of war was drawing up a crowd and so was the fashion show. After the wrestling matches, fashion show seemed more appealing to me. It was wonderful to check out amazing designs from the designers who did a good job telling the evolution of African fashion.

Fashion show.

Before I knew it, the sun was already casting its orange rays signaling the end of yet another day at the island. Most of the days activities had come to an end,but the locals stayed behind to enjoy tunes from their favorite local musicians.

The event definitely lived up to its name. I cant wait to attend the 6th Edition of the same,but next time I will register as a wrestler or a dancer.Maybe.

Long live Rusinga Cultural Festival.

Long live Rusinga Island.The beautiful island with a breathtaking sunset.

Photo contributor: Antony Muwasu Ochieng

 

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