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Kisumu is a port city in western Kenyamarker at , with a population of 355,024 (1999 census). It is the third largest city in Kenya, the principal city of western Kenya, the capital of Nyanza Provincemarker and the headquarters of Kisumu Districtmarker. It has no municipal charter. It is the largest city in Nyanza Province and second most important city after Kampalamarker in the greater Lake Victoriamarker basin.

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.

Kisumu literally means a place of barter trade "sumo". The city has "Friendship" status with Cheltenhammarker, UK and "Sister City" status with Roanoke, Virginiamarker, USA.


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 Parkmarker.

Kisumu Museum

Kisumu Museum, established in 1980, has a series of outdoor pavilion. Some of the pavilions contain live animals. For example, one pavilion contains numerous aquaria with a wide variety of fish from Lake Victoriamarker, along with explanatory posters. Another pavilion contains terrarium containing mamba, spitting cobras, puff adder 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 UNESCOmarker-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 , 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 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 hippo.

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 Mikayi

Kit Mikayi, a large rock with three rocks on top, and is located off Kisumu Bondo Road towards Bondomarker. Kit-mikayi means “Stones of the first wife” or “First Wife Rocks” in Dholuo, the Luo language. It is a weeping rock; it is believed that Mikayi (literally, "the first wife") went up the hill to the stones when her husband took a second wife, and has been weeping ever since.


The "Legio Maria of African Church Mission" was founded by a former catechist of the Roman Catholic Church among the Luo people in Kisii Diocese of western Kenya. In 1962, Blasio Simeo Malkio Ondetto — known as "Baba Messiah" by Legio Maria followers and as the "Black Messiah" or "Black Jesus" by others — split from the Roman Catholic Church taking 90,000 adherents with him. His "second in command" was a woman known as “Mother Maria” and today revered as the true “Mother of God". Both were excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church in the 1960s. By 1980 the church numbered 248,000 adherents[1].In the 21st century, total church membership has been estimated at over three million.

The Legio Maria headquarters and center is the village of Got Kwer, a community that the devout refer to as “Jerusalem”. This village of about 600 is approximately 15 km west of the southwestern Kenya town of Migori. Here is Simeo’s old family homestead and the tomb of the “Messiah” himself which is viewable as a long, cloth-covered plinth with numerous devotional objects scattered around. Both are lovingly maintained by the devout.Popes

Baba Messiah, although sometimes referred to as a pope, was technically considered a god. He has been followed by a succession of three popes to date:
  • Pope Timothy Joseph Blasio Ahitler (1991-1998)
  • Pope Maria Pius Lawrence Jairo Chiaji Adera (1998-2004)
  • Pope Raphael Titus Otieno (2004 – date)
  • Other sacred sites

A large rock formation on the Kisumu-Bondo road about 29 kilometers west of Kisumu — Kit-Mikayi — has become a popular local pilgrimage site for Legio Marians who come to the rock to pray and fast for several weeks at a time.


Before the jet airline era, Kisumu was a landing point on the Britishmarker flying boat passenger and mail route from Southamptonmarker to Cape Townmarker. Kisumu linked Port Bellmarker and Nairobimarker.

Kisumu is served by Kisumu Airportmarker, with regular daily flights to Nairobimarker and elsewhere. Plans to expand the airport in anticipation of increased trade brought about by the recreated East African Community of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are already in high gear with works expected to be complete within the next decade.

Lake Victoria ferries have operated from the port linking the railway to Mwanzamarker and Bukobamarker in Tanzania, and to Entebbemarker, Port Bellmarker, and Jinjamarker in Uganda.

Rail and air accidents

Douglas C-47 plane operated by South African Air Forcemarker crashed into Lake Victoria soon after taking off from Kisumu Airport on July 11, 1945. All 28 on board died.

Two serious railway accident occurred near Kisumu in the 2000s.

The first took place outside Kisumu on August 15, 2000. The brakes on the train failed, causing it to roll. Thirteen people were killed and 37 received injuries. The second took place on the morning of October 16, 2005, when a matatu (taxi minibus) was struck by a passenger train. Six people died and 23 more were injured.After that there have been accidents in its major towns with notable black spots: Ojola/Kisian, Kisat bridge, Ahero, Sondu, Awasi just but to mention a few.

Notable natives and residents

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

  • Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, politician, the first Vice-President of Kenya
  • Raila Amolo Odinga, politician, son of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Kenya's prime minister
  • Robert Ouko, a politician and a son of Kisumu Nyahera who was abducted from his Koru, Kenyamarker home and his body later found charred in what appeared to have been a burning incident. The killers havent been officially brought to book, though everyone mentioned adversely has either vanished from the scenes or just died.
  • Omieri - The Famed Python This was a snake perceived to be a god by the residents of 'Nyakach' and was revered. It was fed and cared for like a king would be.


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