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Kisumu is a western port city on Lake Victoria (click map to enlarge)

Kisumu is a port city in western Kenya, with a population of 322,724 (1999 census). It is the third largest city in Kenya, the principal city of western Kenya and the capital of Nyanza Province. It is also the headquarters of Kisumu District. It has no municipal charter. It is the largest city in Luoland.

The port was founded in 1901 as the main inland terminal of the Uganda Railway and named Port Florence. Although trade stagnated in the 1980s and 90s, it is again growing around oil exports.

Lake Victoria ferries have operated from the port linking the railway to Mwanza, Bukoba, Entebbe, Port Bell and Jinja.

Before the jet airline era, Kisumu was a landing point on the British flying boat passenger and mail route from Southampton to Cape Town. Kisumu linked Port Bell and Nairobi.

Kisumu is served by Kisumu Airport, with regular daily flights to Nairobi and elsewhere. There are plans to expand the airport in anticipation of increased trade brought about by the recreated East African Community of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

Kisumu literally means a place of barter trade "sumo".


Attractions in the city include Kibuye Market, the Kisumu Museum, an impala sanctuary, a bird sanctuary, Hippo Point, and the nearby Kit Mikaye and Ndere Island National Park.

Kisumu Museum

Kisumu Museum, established in 1980, has a series of outdoor pavilions. Some of the pavilions contain live animals. For example, one pavilion contains numerous aquaria with a wide variety of fish from Lake Malawi, along with explanatory posters. Another pavilion contains terrarium containing black mambas, spitting cobras, puff adders and other venomous Kenyan snakes. Additionally, out of doors, the museum has a few additional exhibits, including a snake pit and a crocodile container.

Other pavilions show weaponry, jewellery, farm tools and other artifacts made by the various peoples of the Nyanza Province. Additionally, there are exhibits of stuffed animals, birds and fish. One pavilion houses the prehistoric TARA rock art, which was removed for its own protection to the museum after it was defaced by graffiti in its original location.

The museum's most important and largest exhibition is the UNESCO]-sponsored Ber-gi-dala. This is a full-scale recreation of a traditional Luo homestead. Ber-gi-dala consists of the home, granaries and livestock corrals of an imaginary Luo man as well as the homes of each of his three wives, and his eldest son. 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.

Kisumu Impala Sanctuary

Kisumu is location of the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary. Measuring just 0.4 square miles, the sanctuary is one of Kenya's smallest wildlife preserves. As its name suggests, it is home to a herd of impala. Some hippos, as well as many reptiles and birds are also present. Additionally, several caged baboons and leopards who faced difficulties of one sort or the other in the wild are held in cages there.

Hippo Point

Hippo Point is a 600-acre viewing area on Lake Victoria. Despite its name, it is better known as a viewing point for its unobstructed sunsets over the lake than for its occasional hippos.

Hippo point is near the village of Dunga, a few kilometres SW of the town. The village also has a fishing port and a camping site.

Kit Mikaye

Kit Mikaye, a large rock with three rocks on top, and is located off Kisumu Busia Road towards Bondo. It is a weeping rock; it is believed that Mikaye (which means, literally, "the first wife") went up the hill to the stones when her husband took a second wife, and has been weeping ever since.

Notable people from Kisumu

The term used to refer to a resident of Kisumu is a jakisumo. Notable jokisumo include

  • Prunlal Sheth, Order of the British Empire the first two deputy co-chairpersons of the UK's Commission for Racial Equality
  • Linus Okok Okwach, Roman Catholic Bishop
  • John Spurling, playwright, author and BBC announcer
  • Godfrey Mutiso Gorry, poet and playwright

Finally, the most famous person of jokisumo roots is United States Senator Barack Obama, Jr. of Illinois. Obama, currently the only black member of the US Senate was actually born in Hawaii, but his father, Barack Obama, Sr., was born in the village of Nyangoma Kogalo nearby Kisumu on Lake Victoria. On August 8, 2006, Senator Obama, visited Kisumu, as part of his African tour. At Kisumu, Obama was greeted by thousand of cheering well-wishers who consider the ethnically Luo politician a native son. While in Kisumu, Obama had an AIDS test performed to bring attention to the need for testing and to try to lift some of the stigma many Kenyans attach to AIDS testing.



  • Elevation = 1131m
  • Population = 117,921

The city has "Friendship" status with Cheltenham, UK and is a sister city of Roanoke, Virginia, USA.

External links