Facts to Note before Traveling To Kisumu, Kenya

April 7, 2019 No Comments

Kisumu City lies on the shores of Lake Victoria, which is in the western side of Kenya. Kisumu is beautiful enough and is worth your vacation with family or friends. There are lots of activities you can immerse yourself in while visiting Kisumu. You can enjoy boat rides, visit the museum and parks to see the wildlife, or party in one of the resorts. Imperial Hotel along Jomo Kenyatta Highway is one magnificent hotel you may love to stay at.

But first you need to learn the major facts about this city:

Kisumu Is Much Accessible

Unlike some towns in Kenya, you can access Kisumu by several options. You can travel from Mombasa all the way to Kisumu by road. The roads in Kenya used to be in pathetic conditions but the new governments have over the years prioritized on the infrastructure and so a journey to Kisumu from Mombasa or Nairobi is a smooth ride.

You can also travel to Kisumu by train from Mombasa or Nairobi. The trains are cheaper and run on schedule. The ongoing construction of the Standard Gauge Railway, once completed, will make a train travel to Kisumu even more rewarding.

You can also get to Kisumu city by air. Kisumu International Airport is less than 10 minutes from the town’s Central Business District. Well, nobody will tell you this but if you are travelling from Uganda or Tanzania, you can also access Kisumu by water.

The White Settlers Thought Kisumu Was Poisonous

When the white colonialists, in the beginning of 1900s, learned that the word ‘sumu’ means poison in Swahili, they automatically assumed Kisumu town is poisonous and set out to find out why or how. Unknown to them, ‘sumu’ may mean poison in Swahili, but in the dialect of the local tribe of Kisumu, it means ‘aid’. When the town was just picking up, the locals would come from the rural areas to seek assistance from their relatives staying in the town. So anyone traveling to Kisumu would be heard saying, “I am going to seek aid from so and so.”

Such assistance was especially necessary at times of drought when the villages had no farm produce to sustain the families. Kisumu, by then a mere center through which the Kenya-Uganda railway passed, had plenty of grains brought in by traders.

In fact the word ‘sumu’ in its original form is ‘suma’ which means ‘grain assistance/aid’ at times of famine. Over time, the assistance included not just grains but also the money the white-man had introduced. As you can see, poison is the last thing these locals had in mind while naming this town Kisumu.

However, before the misunderstanding could be sorted out, Kisumu was for a long time named Port Florence after the wife of the engineer who built the Kenya-Uganda railway. The name reverted back to Kisumu once the issue of poison was sorted.

Lake Victoria is Prestigious

The mention of Lake Victoria may not ring a bell to you, unless it is pointed out that it is the source of River Nile, which is the longest river in the world. Lake Victoria itself is the largest tropical lake in the world and the largest by surface area in Africa. Visiting Kisumu city takes you straight to this lake. In fact from the town you can once in a while be able to catch glimpses of the lake glimmering under the sun.