THE EQUATOR CRISS CROSS URBAN CENTRE
Maseno urban centre that is situated in Kisumu County of Nyanza region in western Kenya is one of the world’s privileged urban centers because the Equator passes through it. Another urban centre in Kenya through which the equator passes is Nanyuki Town. It is positioned near the world famous Mount Kenya in the east of the country. Both urban centers have official man-made landmarks of international standards for the identification of the equator. However, Maseno contrasts Nanyuki and perhaps any other urban centre around the globe that is situated on the equator due to its full urban concentration around it within a minimal area that sprawls on both sides of the earth’s mid circumference.
The site of Maseno, its average size, its concentrated residential layout on a hill that rises gradually from the southern hemisphere then slopes abruptly after crossing the equator in the northern hemisphere, the several winding rural footpaths and seasonal roads, the all weather road of the 1970s proposed Mombasa-Lagos Trans Africa Highway that is referred to as the Kenya-Uganda Road, the village-like high equatorial trees’ canopy around the equator, the cool equatorial weather that is influenced at intervals by the contrasting prevailing winds due to being positioned within the lake region thus the lake equatorial climate, the attractive rural vegetation and the undulating Maseno suburbs besides its simplicity make it an extra special urban centre worth visiting at least once in a life time.
Positioned a marathon run away to the north-west of Kisumu City, overlooking the distant south low-lying expansive Lake Victoria that is the earth’s second largest lake after the United States’ Lake Superior, surrounded by the rocky Maseno Hills to the east, the undulating Luanda-banana rich area to the north and the rural Seme location to the west is Maseno urban centre of Kisumu County.
On the other hand, I had never imagined the importance of being within the vicinity and crossing of the equator until I once read the comments of Sir Bobby Charlton from a Kenyan daily newspaper during his hey days in the English Football Association League that is now referred to as the English Football Premier League when he was a member of Manchester United Football Club in the early 1970s. The above referred comments were made by him after he and members of the above named football club had flown over the equator and landed in one of the southern hemisphere’s Pacific countries of Australasia for tours and the playing of build up football matches during the off season of the English football league. The experience of flying over and across the zero degree principal latitude was a great excitement to all the team members in comparison to the international football fans’ reception that awaited them ahead.
Manchester United players’ experience of flying over the equator prepared me for two practical ones that were to take place a few years ahead such that when the time came, they made me to understand how much crossing the equator had meant to them. This happened first in 1975 when I kept goal for my high school’s football team against Maseno School on their pitch. The same was repeated when I travelled as a member of Kisumu’s Yosa Bima Football Club to play against Maseno’s Siriba Teachers Training College and Government Training Institute in both 1976 and 1978 respectively. To a Kenyan based citizen, such might not be experiences worth boasting about but to an alien, they are historical occurrences that deserve recording thus my joy too similar to Sir Bobby Charlton’s. However, the difference was that while they flew over the equator, I played soccer on it at Maseno School and within its vicinity at both Siriba Teachers’ Training College and Maseno Government Training Institute.
As much as the above described experiences also apply to Kenyan couples who wed on the equator at Maseno or within its vicinity, the same is not in line with the frequent hosting of high school games at Maseno School. Rather, the cool breeze brought about by the presence of several tall equatorial trees that do the wind breaking job, a variety of vast playing grounds that have soft evergreen grass and education related history of this place are the main reasons for the hosting of such games there.
The name Maseno was first pronounced by Bishop J.J. Willis of the Church Missionary Society (C.M.S.) in respect of a predominant tree in that area that had provided him with a convenient shade under which he sat in 1906. At that time, he was on his way to Kabaka’s Buganda Kingdom in the present day country of Uganda where the above mentioned mission had already been established earlier on. The above referred tree is called Oseno in the Dholuo language of the Luo tribe or Luseno in the dialect of the Banyore sub-tribe of the Luhyia communitythus these traditional African names guided him in giving that place the name Maseno. This was after he had promised his host that he would establish an educational centre there. He honored this promise later in the year by setting up Maseno School under the umbrella of the Church Missionary Society. What led him to do so was the warm welcome that had been accorded to him by the Luo Chief of that area at that time. This was none other than Ogolla Wuod Ayieke who was the great great grand father of the former Patron of Gor Mahia Football Club, the former chairman of Kenya Football Federation, the former official of the Confederation of African Football and the former Member of Parliament for Kisumu Town West, Honourable Joab Omino. Otherwise, as is evident from the above names of Oseno and Luseno, both the Luo and the Luhyia tribes as neighbours within this locality are definitely natives of Maseno area.
So, the founding of Maseno urban centre had its basis on the establishment of an Anglican Mission by the Church Missionary Society (C.M.S.) and Maseno School in 1906 thus the Rock Church and theancient brick classrooms of Maseno School which were built in 1908 still stand strong as monumental evidences for the establishment of this Christian mission. These are besides the Principal’s office, the Deputy Principal’s office, the Senior Teacher’s office, the teachers’ staff room and theold teachers’ residential houses which were built between 1908 and 1930 that together have survived for a century and six years by the year 2012 thus the first established formal school in Kenya. In the year 2006, Maseno School held its centenary anniversary with the head of state the Honourable Mwai Kibaki as the guest of honour.
Maseno School’s compound plus the expansive land on which Maseno University is situated today was donated by Chief Ogolla Wuod Ayieke in response to Bishop Willis’ promise to establish learning and training institutions for the education of the sons of chiefs so that they could be prepared to lead after the retirement or the demise of their fathers. This was his way of thanking the Maseno community for their hospitality. In this way, Maseno School got established such that besides being the pioneer formal educational institution in the country, it was a great gift to Kavirondo Gulf in which it is situated that covers the then South Nyanza and Central Nyanza that was later referred to as Nyanza Province and North Nyanza that was later referred to as Western Province until the establishment of counties was effected in the year 2012 in accordance with Kenya’s new constitution.
On the other hand, Bishop Willis became the first Principal of Maseno School and at about the same time he established the famous Kings College Budo in Uganda which was based on a similar model to Maseno School that was the training of the sons of Kings while Maseno’s was the training of the sons of chiefs. In Maseno’s case, the chiefs felt that after training them then Bishop Willis would take their sons to his country which was Great Britain for further studies such that on completion they would not return but work there. So, they gave him the sons of their subjects too as a way of countering such a plan thus an interesting way of doing so as it seems to have been a gamble. It is reportedly on record that the non sons of the chiefs performed better than theirs due hard and smart work in their training.
Come the year 1909, the first students at Maseno School who had initially attended lessons under a tree before the first classrooms were built in 1908 complained about the technical curriculum that they were being taught for reasons best known to them thus they demanded to be taught an academic curriculum. It is apparent that they were informed about this curriculum by the children of both the missionaries and the teachers who had come from Europe where the same was in place since the African learners wanted to be taught like them. A change was then effected such that carpentry and masonry were done away with in favor of an academic curriculum save for mathematics since similar to today it fits in both curriculums. This resulted in an increase of the number of African students from the initial four to one hundred and fifty by the year 1911. The upward trend continued such that after one century, the school now has one thousand students plus, for example, by the year 2011 the total number of students was one thousand and eighty five.
On the other hand, it is with reference to Maseno Anglican mission’s central position that the dioceses which got established later on were named according to their geographic directions from it as follows. Maseno North Diocese which covers the former North Nyanza, Maseno West Diocese which covers Siaya County and Maseno South Diocese which covers Kisumu County. A headquarter was set up for each diocese, for example, Saint Stephen’s Cathedral in Kisumu City became the head office of Maseno South Diocese. To its credit, the mission also established new learning institutions in these dioceses. For example, Butere Girls High School in Maseno North Diocese, Ng’iya Girls High School in Maseno West Diocese and Kisumu Day High School that similar to Maseno Schoolis a boys’ schoolin Maseno South Diocese. It is worth to note that at a certain stage, Maseno School admitted student girls such that it became a mixed school. On the establishment of Butere Girls’ High school and Ng’iya Girls High School, the student girls at Maseno School got transferred there.
Otherwise, people wonder why this institution was named Maseno School instead of Maseno Secondary School, Maseno High school or Maseno Senior Academy. It is worth to note that it was named so when the first subjects which were on offer were tailored to meet the learners’ self reliance. Therefore, they were career based thus the name Maseno School befitted them in comparison to others like Maseno Secondary School, Maseno High School or Maseno Academy which portray more of academic education than technical education. So, when the curriculum got changed from technical to academic then the school too got converted into an intermediate primary school then it doubled as a secondary school for the sake of O-level curriculum and later on into a high school for the sake of A-level curriculum. At some stage afterwards, the intermediate primary school curriculum was done away with in favour of the O-level one which had doubled with it within the same institution, then the A-level one was added afterwards until the 8-4-4 system of education in which the A-level curriculum has no place was introduced in Kenya in the mid 1980s. So, Maseno School offers only the O-level curriculum by the year 2012. Otherwise, the full primary school curriculum is offered in its two sister schools namely, Maseno Mixed Primary School which is a day school and Maseno Girls’ Boarding Primary School. Despite the changes and advancement in the curriculums taught there, its name continues to be Maseno School. It sounds so befitting such that several school authorities in the western part of Kenya have renamed their institutions by omitting the titles of primary, secondary or high so that they sound like Maseno’s even if theirs are not befitting. For example, if a school’s name is Tree High School, it gets renamed as Tree School.
Position-wise in relation to the equator, Maseno School occupies both the earth’s northern and southern hemispheres. This means that from 1906 to date, certain teachers whose residences are located in the southern hemisphere go to work in the northern hemisphere and vice versa for those whose residences are positioned in the northern hemisphere. Similarly, since students’ dormitories are situated in the northern hemisphere, those whose classrooms happen to be positioned in the southern hemisphere have to cross the equator in order to attend lessons there then do the same when returning to their dormitories later on. The same applies to students who leave the northern hemisphere so as to play ball games on one of the playing pitches that is positioned in the southern hemisphere thus the equator crisscross factor.
As for the Maseno School Students’ Alumni, those who were educated there include some of Kenya’s great public personalities as who is who in the academic-corporate-business-political-professional fields. The academic list includes the Oxford University trained scientist Professor David Wasao who was the first Luo to become a professor. He has a rich international academic profile besides being the founder and the Chancellor of the Great lakes University of Kisumu. His father was also a former student of Maseno School thus a great coincidence. Secondly, the Cambridge University educated entomologist, the late Professor Thomas Odhiambo who was formerly a lecturer at the University of Nairobi and whose international academic profile is rich too similar to Professor Wasao’s was a former student of Maseno School. He is best remembered as the founder of the Lake Victoria Mbita based International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology thus ICIPE. In addition, he was referred to as the Science Face of Africa after he met five sitting heads of African states at a round table in the capital city of Botswana thus Gaborone in order to sell his vision for scientific research and application of the findings in the African continent for better livelihood of its people.
On the side of the professionals, the late Barack Obama Senior who was the father of the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama Junior, was also a student at Maseno School among many other professionals whose list similar to the corporate and the business ones is too long to be included here-in. He went on to become a Harvard University trained economist before serving his country in the same capacity at the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development headquarters in the capital city of Kenya, Nairobi.
On the other hand, Maseno School’s political list of its former students either at O-level, A-level or both includes some members of Kenya’s tenth parliament. These are, the Honorable Njeru Githae who is the Minister for Finance, the Honorable Otieno Kajwan’g who is the Minister for Immigration and is a lawyer by profession, the Honorable Maalim Mohammed who is the Deputy Speaker and is also a lawyer by profession and Honorable Olago Aluoch who is the Member of Parliament for Kisumu West and is also a lawyer by profession. It also includes some members of Kenya’s first parliament. These are the Honorable J.D. Otiende who was independent Kenya’s first Minister for Education, the Honorable Moody Awori who was the former Vice President of Kenya between the year 2002 and 2008, the independent Kenya’s first Vice President the Honorable Jaramogi Oginga Odinga who was the father of Kenya’s Prime Minister the Honorable Raila Odinga. Jaramogi set a record in mathematics at the very school before doing the same at Uganda’s Makerere University College. In his autobiography entitled Not Yet Uhuru, we learn that his main mentor at this institution was the famous teacher from the United Kingdom known as Carey Francis. He was the Principal of Maseno School from 1928 to 1940 after which he relocated to Alliance High School in Kikuyu. He authored certain mathematics text books that were used to teach that subject in Kenyan schools in the past before ssp mathematics that was referred to as new mathematics of the early 1970s to the late 1980s was introduced.
Today, Maseno School is one of the elite national schools in Kenya. In other words, its student catchment area covers the whole of Kenya thus it is given the priority to select pupils who perform best in the annual national primary schools examination before the county schools which used to be referred to as the provincial and the district schools do the same. For a long time, it has been among the best performing schools at ‘O’-Level and in the former ‘A’-Level national examinations before Kenya reverted to the 8-4-4 system of education in the mid 1980s.
Similarly, Maseno School excels in sports and performance arts like dramaand music both at the county and at national levels. A good example is in Basketball in which it frequently emerges as champ in the annual Kenya Secondary Schools Sports National Championship since the year 2002. It does similarly in the annual East & Central Africa Secondary Schools Sports Championship in which it was champ in the year 2002, 2007 and in 2008. In the year 2006, Maseno School emerged as the winner of the International Federation of Basketball Associations or FIBA under 18 Championship for the first time in the city of Durban in South Africa. Maseno Schools’ Rugby team performs well too in the annual Kenya and in the annual East African secondary schools sports competitions in which it also emerges as champ often.
As its name suggests, Maseno Urban Centre is not only home to Maseno School but to the Ministry of Agriculture’s Farmers Training Institute-the Trinity Fellowship Headquarters-Maseno University that is situated where Siriba Teachers Training College and the Government Training Institute were once located-Maseno Mission Hospital-Maseno Club-Maseno Mixed Day Primary School-Maseno Girls’ Primary Boarding School- Maseno Shopping Centre-Maseno Market-Maseno Post Office-Telkom Kenya Maseno-Maseno Police station-Maseno Law Courts-the Kenya Government’s Administration Offices-Maseno Residential Estates-Chrisco Church Maseno-Maseno Petrol Station. All these are situated on the gradual rising Maseno Hill sprawling on both sides of the 1970s proposed Mombasa-Lagos Trans Africa Highway or the Kenya-Uganda Road that people often refer to as Busia Road since it leads westwards to Busia Town which is situated at the border of Uganda and Kenya on either side of the divide.
On the other hand, a lion’s share of Maseno Urban Centre occupies the south of the equator in comparison to the north of it. In other words, only parts of Maseno School-Maseno University’s Siriba Campus-the Ministry of Agriculture’s Farmers Training Institute lie on both the northern and the southern sides of the equator. An amusing factor is that whereas Maseno has most facilities that qualify it status-wise as a town thus Maseno Town, it apparently sounds better to refer to it as Maseno Urban Centre due to its multiple of educational and professional training institutions which take the lion’s share of it besides being its basis too in contrast to its civic, business, shopping, social and recreational amenities.
Otherwise, as is evident from the above, Maseno being a pioneer educational institution in Kenya and more or so a hub of education in western Kenya with evident successes on the same, the Government of Kenya had no option but to grant this small urban centre a higher learning institution in 1990. This is no other than the well known Maseno University. By the year 2012, this institution has extended beyond Maseno region into other urban centres in Kenya where it has constituent campuses. A good example is Maseno University Kisumu City Campus at Varsity Plaza in unison with Maseno University Kisumu Hotel that is the practical centre for its faculty of nutrition & hospitality and, Maseno University Bondo Campus that in 2012 established Maseno University Bondo Campus’ Kisumu City Teaching Centre at the former Maseno South Diocese’s St. Stephen’s Christian Institute of Commercial Training that was popularly known as CITC.
As for Trinity Fellowshipthat wasmentioned above as one of the establishments in Maseno urban centre, it is a Christine ministry which was founded by an Anglican missionary from England known as Reverend Dawkins. This was in 1954 after he had become a born again Christian. It is positioned on the western side of Maseno School next to the Kisumu-Uganda road. Its objectives include ministering the word of God on spiritual salvation to students in schools and teaching them on how to maintain the same as they serve the almighty. After the demise of Reverend Dawkins in 1997, his son continued on with the work from where he had left to date. He did this by relocating to Nairobi from his residence in Kisumu, a city where his father used to reside too. By doing so, his target was to reach the whole of the Kenyan schools’ Christian Union fraternity. He continues to do the same with the help of committed full time ministers of God who are spread country wide. However, the official headquarters of this ministry remains at Maseno. It is an establishment worth visiting by Christians especially student members of Christian unions in schools for spiritual lessons because it is a centre with relevant facilities and teaching aids on the same. This can be done with prior arrangement.
In other words, the above information about Trinity Fellowship which has its roots in the Anglican Christian Mission at Maseno as Reverend Dawkins was originally a member of the same is a strong evidence of how most establishments in this urban centre owe their existence in one way or another to the Church Missionary Society. Most of them came up after Christian missionaries who belonged to the same society like Reverend Dawkins identified Maseno’s potential as being conducive for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, establishing a health centre thus Maseno Mission Hospital, educational and or training institutions for the preparation of the children of the local community for their future careers. This was soon after the Kenya-Uganda Railway had reached the Kisumu lake terminus in 1901 from Mombasa since this is the facility that enabled them to travel far into the countryside from the east coast of Africa. However, all these happened after Reverend Willis had identified the same and started similar work at Maseno as was described earlier on thus they supported him on their arrival there. Today by the year 2012, Anglican missionaries from England still visit the Maseno establishments for Christian, health and educational matters including the dioceses that got established from it as was deliberated on above.
Otherwise, other pioneering Christian educational centres in Kenya that are comparable to Maseno on similar societal influence unto the establishment of urban centres are the alliance of Protestant Churches’ founded Alliance Boys’ High School and Alliance Girls’ High School that are situated near Kikuyu Trading Centre in Kiambu County, the Catholic Church founded Saint Mary’s Yala Boys’ High School near Yala Trading Centre in Siaya County, Mukumu Boys’ Seminary-Mukumu Girls’ Primary Boarding School-Mukumu Girls’ High School near Khayega Trading Centre in Kakamega County, Lwak Girls’ Primary School-Lwak Girls’ High School near Nyilima in Siaya County and Saint Mary’s Mosocho Boys’ Boarding Intermediate Primary School-Cardinal Otung’a High School Mosocho near Mosocho Trading Centre in Kisii County. However, Maseno’s story is so unique such that it attracted a university before any of them as a public educational institution. The private one that may be compared to it in terms of having a conglomerate of educational institutions is the Kabarak establishments that include Kabarak Primary School-Kabarak Secondary School-Kabarak University that were founded and are owned by the former President of Kenya Honourable Daniel Arap Moi. However, Maseno’s history is far richer than it due to a great difference in their durations of existence.
THE EQUATOR CRISSCROSS FACTOR
To revisit the equator crisscross factor, it is so factual such that elsewhere within the vicinity, certain students and residents in the neighbourhood sleep night long on their beds with their heads north of the equator while their feet south of it or vice versa. Equator 1 and Equator 2 hostels for students at Siriba Campus of Maseno University are good examples of this fact.
Another example of the equator crisscross factor is the zigzag Nyanza-Western provincial boundary that runs along the eastern side of Maseno School–Maseno Mission Hospital–Siriba Campus in such a way that it crisscrosses the equator at certain points. On the other hand, people also crisscross both of them frequently such that the boundary issue used to make the Luos of the former Nyanza Province and the Luhyias of the former Western Province to identify their land limits wrongly since they mix freely in this border region similar to other regional and international ones.
In the past, the above border factor used to cause the Luo and the Luhyia natives of Maseno tempers to flare up as concerned the true ownership of the former Siriba Teachers Training College and Maseno School. This argument used to be on whether these institutions belonged to the former Western Province’s Kakamega District before its western part got curved out to become Vihiga District though both have now been reunited and have been renamed Kakamega County or, to the former Nyanza Province’s Kisumu District that is now called Kisumu County and to which Maseno belongs officially.
Otherwise, in July 1998, the equator crisscross factor attracted the hosting of the 3rd International Drama & Education Association or IDEA ’98 Festival to be held in the near by Kisumu City. This was for the convenience of making visits to Maseno by drama officials, thespians and visitors from around the world that had come to participate or to attend the world drama performances that were being held in Africa for the first time. All these were due to the courtesy of the late Doctor Opiyo Mumma of the University of Nairobi’s Faculty of English & Theatre Arts who had earlier on taught at Maseno School. This was after he had convinced the organizers of the world drama festival during its second session that was held in Australia in 1995 about the suitability of holding the event in Kisumu City due to the equator crisscross factor at Maseno. In other words, if Maseno had enough hotel and theatre facilities plus an assurance of packed halls like the city of Kisumu by that time then the festival would have been held there.
It will be injustice done to Maseno if nothing is mentioned about how to tour it. Reason being that the equator’s crisscross factor aside, its eastern suburbs on Maseno Hills have the attractive granitic tors which are part of the Nyanzian Kavirondian Pre-cambrian Rocks that geologists and geomorphologists believe to be the oldest on earth. Far south, a view of the magnificent second largest lake on earth, Lake Victoria, is unavoidable. This can be seen with scrutiny from outside Maseno School’s principal’s office or else, one has to retrace the Kisumu route for a close observation since it is positioned some distance away.
A visitor to Maseno should always remember that its main attractions are the equator marks which are easy to identify as they are positioned on both sides of the Kenya-Uganda Road. However, for this and a whole tour flavor appeal to be realized, it is worth visiting Maseno School’s inside equator mark also by entering through its main gate that is positioned on its west, observe its compound and facilities in relation to the equator and according to the earlier descriptions on the same without forgetting the ancient Rock Church, students’ classrooms, dormitories, playing fields and teachers’ residences. It is also important to ask the school authorities for the ancient available photographs and records on the rich history of this institution. One will notice that new buildings have been erected at Maseno School of late and they can easily be differentiated from the old ones since they have modern architectural designs and they appear new to an observer.
In addition, a visitor should not forget to walk through Maseno School’s eastern gate so as to view the tall equatorial trees more closely which are first sighted from the mid distant position as soon as one starts to walk between the two main soccer pitches towards the very gate. Once one goes out of this second gate onto the eastern side of the school compound, it is advisable to first turn left then walk along the outside murrum road that surrounds this school on its northern frontier up to its north west where it connects to the Kenya-Uganda Road that had been used earlier on to enter Maseno School after having crossed that road’s equator mark that now lies slightly to the south. After that, one should then retrace his or her footsteps along the murrum road back to the eastern gate.
From this point, one should visit the former Western Province that is now Kakamega County’s Maseno Market that is a stone throw away thus crossing a former provincial boundary that is now a county boundary. Since bananas are displayed there in plenty, one may buy some as this area is situated in the neihbourhood of the Luanda-banana rich plantations. So, it might be injustice done to this part of Maseno if its sweet plantains are not tasted though it is not compulsory to do so. After that, one should continue with the tour by walking a short distance to the south past the eastern gate of Maseno University’s Siriba Campus, cross the equator again though this might occur without realization, turn to the left and call in at the famous Maseno Mission Hospital that is positioned some short distance to the east. As one does so, he or she will cross the zigzag internal regional boundary between the former Nyanza and Western provinces or the current Kisumu County and Kakamega County once again plus the equator thus the crisscross factor at play. After that one should retrace his or her footsteps to the eastern gate of Maseno University, enter through it so as to visit Siriba Campus where he or she ought to request to be taken to Equator 1 and Equator 2 university students’ hostels so as to experience the equator crisscross factor of sleeping with parts of one’s body in either hemispheres of the earth.
From there, one should walk through Siriba Campus towards its main gate in the west, cross the Kenya-Uganda road, enter through the main gate of Maseno University into Maseno Campus so as to tour it, come out through the very gate that was used to enter into this compound earlier on, walk slightly southward along the main road so as to visit Maseno Mixed Primary School that is a day school and Maseno Girls’ Boarding Primary School that are positioned on the right hand of the road adjacent to Maseno University’s Main Campus. After that, one should retrace his or her footsteps along the Kenya-Uganda Road slightly towards the north then cross to the right towards the east so as to visit Maseno shopping centre that is positioned slightly to the south of Siriba campus.
After that, one should retrace his or her footsteps back to the Kenya-Uganda Road that one drove along on initial entry into Maseno Town from Kisumu, walk along it northwards, view the police station-law courts-public residences-Agricultural Farmers Training Institute that are situated on the west or the left side of this road, even visit Maseno’s western rural outskirts, retrace footsteps to the Kenya-Uganda Road on the east, visit Trinity Fellowship Centre and Maseno Club that are situated on the right side of this main road after which one returns to the original equator marks that are visible on both sides of the same road which connects to the one that leads to the main entrance of Maseno School on its west that was used earlier on to start the tour.
The above tour guide is a clockwise recommended one after which the eastern rural outskirts of Maseno that include Maseno Hills that are home to the granitic tor rocks, the neighbouring extensive rural Seme regionthat is situated to the west and in which the unique Luo myth related and the world re-known Kit Mikaye granitic tor is positioned, may be visited. This may be done by retracing the all weather Maseno-Kisumu Road up to Kisumu-Kisian Junction then connect to Kisumu-Bondo Road by turning to the right, drive towards Holo Market, by pass it then continue driving towards Kombewa Urban Centre and before one reaches there, a conspicuous large and high multiple stone layer feature will be sighted on the left hand side of the rural setting thus the Kit Mikaye. Alternatively, one may choose to use the seasonal weather rural road from Maseno that runs through Seme region from the north east to Holo Market Centre then connect to Kisumu-Bondo Road by turning right and drive along it then similar to the immediate above guide one will sight Kit Mikaye on the left. As if not enough one may drive from Maseno direct to Kombewa Urban Centre in Seme, connect to the Kisumu Bondo Road by turning to the left, drive along it as if going towards Holo-Kisumu, before long, one will sight the above described Kit Mikaye on the right side of the road within the rural setting.
Otherwise, an anticlockwise tour of Maseno on foot from the equator mark southwards along the Kenya-Uganda Road may also be conducted if one chooses not to use the clockwise one before embarking on the rural tour of Maseno hills to the east and the neighbouring extensive rural Seme region to the west. This means that from Maseno School’s main gate that is situated on its west, one will have to connect to the Kenya-Uganda Road up to the two equator landmarks that are positioned on either side of it then visit Trinity Christian Fellowship-Maseno Club-Maseno Law Courts-Maseno’s residential areas-the western rural outskirts of Maseno-Maseno University’s Maseno Campus-Maseno Mixed primary School-Maseno Girls’ Boarding Primary School-Maseno Shopping Centre-Maseno University’s Siriba Campus-Maseno Mission Hospital-Maseno Market-Maseno School-the Ministry of Agriculture’s Farmers’ Training Institute respectively. However, one may choose to visit Maseno’s institutions selectively or as suits him or her but the lay out of this urban centre calls for the above suggested clockwise or anticlockwise tour guide especially the former one.
On the other hand, it is essential to make prior arrangements with the authorities of Maseno School, Maseno University and any other institution of interest that are mentioned above through a relevant tour agency if one is a serious domestic or foreign tourist. In addition, a request to be provided with one or two local resource persons who are conversant with this area’s geographical layout and historical background will be vital for the ultimate achievement of the objectives of the tour.
So, arrival at the Kenya-Uganda road’s twin principal equator mark, viewing it and taking photos there alone are not enough unless one is in a hurry or simply wants to be on record as having stepped on the equator. In other words, a good time has to be set aside for touring Maseno by starting from Maseno School’s western gate clockwise or anticlockwise. This is because it is both an introduction and the climax of such a tour since it was this urban centre’s major founding phenomenon. It is unique that such a tour unlike many others starts with a climax the way Kenya’s Akamba benga music does contrary to Kenya’s Luo-Luhyia-Kikuyu-Kalenjin benga music and other world music. This is because the way Maseno’s layout is spread out is such that starting a tour from any other point besides the above recommended Maseno School will make it lose its flavor thus it has to start with a bang from it. Imagine if Maseno School were to be transformed into another institution other than what it has been since 1906, will this not affect the tour flavor negatively even though the equator remains in place!
Therefore, Maseno as a simple yet an average in size urban centre that most people only consider to be a transit point thus overlooking its geographical set up that bear its rich historical background as has been described above, make it a place worth visiting for a study tour, a wedding, sports events or an enjoyable travel by crisscrossing the equator from one hemisphere to another at will on the globe thus on top of the planet earth. At the end of the day, one would have made history and set a personal record worth narrating to grandchildren in future. The sketch map below will be of much help for one who wants to tour Maseno thus it should be used in liaison with the tour guide descriptions above.
COPYRIGHT: WILFRED OTIENO 2012
MAP OF MASENO