Elimu Asilia

Kenya's Indigenous Knowledge

Tourism in Subaland revolves around her rich natural and cultural heritage. Subaland spreads across a number of towns like Mbita, Sori, Gwasi etc. Tourist attractions include beaches around the two main Islands of Rusinga and Mfangano, parks, intangible cultural heritage like the rock art sites consisting of writing on stone caves which are of historical signi_cance, museums and cultural centres including decent hotels and organized foodfairs, Ruma National Park, Tom Mboya Mausoleum, Winam Gulf of Lake Victoria.

This theme highlights some of the tourist hotels in Subaland. They include: Rusinga Guest House, Governor’s Camp, Rusinga Island Lodge, Ramba Guest House, Peace Museum Bandas, Magunga, Green Forest, Suba Tourist Hotel, ICIPE, among others.

The Abasuba Community Peace Museum


Abasuba Community Peace Museum
Photo donated by Jack M. Obonyo

The Abasuba Community Peace Museum is located in Homa Bay County, Suba North District, Mfangano Island, Waware location, in Ramba village. The museum was founded in 2000, with Mr. Jack Maurice Obonyo as its first curator. It is one of the first community museum to be supported by the National Museum of Kenya and the Kenyan government through the Kenya Tourism Trust Fund. It is managed by Trust for African Rock Art (TARA). The museum has a community centre, a gallery and a communal library. It is also a research centre for students, researchers and other related intellectuals wishing to study archaeological sites of the Lake Victoria region. The museum holds material and cultural displays of the Abasuba. It also has other good facilities like camp sites for tourism development.

Source: The British Museum Newsletter Issue 7, Spring 2015

Mbita Point Guest House (ICIPE)

The Mbita Point Guest House is located within the ICIPE Thomas Odhiambo Campus (ITOC), along a beautiful beach on the shores of Lake Victoria, in Mbita Point Township. It is 42km from Homa Bay town. The Guest House belongs to the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE). The complex building was initiated in 1977 to facilitate field research. The Guest House opened on 8th August 1986. It serves ICIPE staff and other international organizations.

It has two conference facilities, a lounge and lecture theatre. The management organizes entertainment, sight seeing dubbed ‘Boat Dragon Fly’ in Mbasa Island and visits to tourist areas like the Abasuba Community Peace Museum, the Tom Mboya Mausoleum among others.

Ruma National Park

The park was established in 1966 as Lambwe Valley Game Reserve. It was gazetted in 1983 and renamed Ruma National Park. Ruma was one of Kenya’s most powerful wizards, the much feared Gor Mahia who lived around the park (affiliated to Gor Mahia F.C.). The park is located in the Lambwe Valley and covers 120km2.

It is the only terrestrial park in Nyanza Province, and one of the few places in Kenya

where you can see Jackson’s hartebeest and Oribi antelopes. The park is home to the only

indigenous population of the rare roan antelopes in Kenya, which are on the verge of extinction. The park has numerous other species of game including black rhinos, Hippopotomus, cape buffalos, giraffes, vervet monkeys including over 400 species of birds. The famous Korlang’o historical picnic site is also located within Ruma National Park. The site was used as escape route by the Kalenjin people during the British

colonial occupation.

Source: Workshop with Suba elders in April 2015

Mfangano Island Camp

Mfangano Island Camp occupies a secluded bay on the western shores of Mfangano Island in Lake Victoria. The cottages are built in traditional Luo style with banana-leaf thatch and walls of natural clay.

The Camp is surrounded by a variety of beautiful fauna and flora mainly indigenous plants and flowers. The management can organize bird watching, cultural walks and water sports on request. Fleets of multi coloured fishing boats gracefully sail past the bay in the morning, while the spectacular sunset dips below the unbroken lake horizon.

Source: Workshop with Suba elders in April 2015 acquired from http://www.eastafrica.co.za

Rusinga Island Lodge

Rusinga Island Lodge is located on Rusinga Island over the causeway from Mbita on the shores of Lake Victoria. It was the first hotel in Rusinga Island. The lodge is built close to an archaeological site where thousands of fossils have been found and guests can go on a guided tour of the dig and learn about the fossil finds. The grounds of Rusinga Island Lodge is home to exotic trees visited by several bird species which are unique to the Island the legendary Lake Victoria, the second largest freshwater lake.

Source: Workshop with Suba elders in April 2015

Traditional Shrine (Ekiwaga)

Shrines still feature in Suba oral traditions. When there was no rain in Mfangano Island in the past, the Wagimbe and Wasamo elders performed sacrifice in the shrines. Today, the Wagimbe still perform sacrifices on Magerenge Shrine but its significance is today confined to their clan. Wagimbe believe that the site holds ‘supernatural owners’ (spirits) and that people coming unexpectedly to the site would see old men and women seated on stools in the shelter, drinking beer amid hens and their chicks scratching the ground. People visiting the site to see the ancestors must abstain from sex, tell no one where they are going and never name the site, otherwise they will see and hear nothing. 

Source: www.UNESCO.org and Elimu Asilia workshop in April 2015 at Mbita