Kisumu, formerly known as Port Florence, was founded in 1901 as the main inland terminal for the Ugandan railway. Actually, it is a port that so many Kenyans are green about. It is also interesting to note that the lakeside city was recognized by the United Nations in 2006 as the first millennium city in the world.
The County has a population of 1,155,576 people according to the latest censors, and sits on an area of 2086.9km with its headquaters, Kisumu City, is the third largest city in Kenya. It has seven constituencies; Kisumu East, Kisumu West, Kisumu Central, Muhoroni, Nyakach, Nyando and Seme.
The County’s economy revolves around fishing as it sits on the shores of L. Victoria, agriculture, mainly rice in Kano Plains, sugarcane in the northern an eastern parts of the Kano Plains and maize, beans sweet potatoes and vegetable for subsistance. In terms of industry, the county is surrounded with several light ones including textile, molasses and fish processing.
As a tourist destination, there are various places to visit in the City, ranging from the lakeside views at Dunga Hill camp and Hippo point to the infamous Kisumu museum that displays the culture of people from Nyanza. There is also the Impala sanctuary that shelter herds of Impalas and zebras, and an animal orphanage, a home to wildlife like cheetahs and baboons.
The impact of barter trade, christened “osumo” during the period of pre-colonization, is still in the books of history. Many years ago, those who had cereals would trade in sheep, or goats. Sounds like one of those first innovations on trade. No wonder stories of people going hungry, or simply not being able to survive due to low buying power, was unheard of in the region thanks to this creative way of doing business.
In December 2019, the rituals and practices associated with the Kit Mikayi shrine saw the County make the most of the natural attraction – during the 14th Intergovernmental Committee that took place in Bogota, Colombia, the shrine was inscribed on the UNESCO’s list of elements of intangible cultural heritage to be safeguarded. It became the “4th element” in Kenya to be inscribed after the Kayas of the Mijikenda, Esikuti Dance and the rights of passage of the Maasai Community.
The educational part of Kisumu is in no way a disappointment as it hosts a number of national high schools like Kisumu boys and Kisumu girls high school among other great schools that have topped in national exams, and universities that include Great Lakes University, Maseno university and branch campuses of University of Nairobi, and Kenyatta University.
The transport system of the city is also quite impressive with options ranging from air to water, roads and rail. Kisumu is served by an international airport with regular flights to Nairobi and Mombasa and the expansion of air cargo is expected to increase trade. With the new standard gauge railway expected to extend to the County in future, trade and transport can only flourish.