Saturday, January 24, 2009

Kogelo awakes to new dawn

The model of the proposed Dero Kogelo Library and Cultural Centre by architect Ng’wuono Hongo (above right), and Mr Antony Ogola, who leased the 1.5-acre site. Photos/ANTHONY NJAGI 

By ANTHONY NJAGI

Nyang’oma Kogelo is no longer the sleepy village it was just two years ago. For one thing, the village in Siaya District now has running water and electricity.

The road that connects it to the Kisumu-Bondo Road at Ndori junction is in much better condition, and the homestead of Barack Obama’s extended paternal family — which has become an almost familiar spot on the world map — is under 24-hour armed security.

Domestic and foreign tourists have been flocking to Kogelo to see the birthplace of the US president’s father.

As optimistic entrepreneurs predict a significant increase in tourist arrivals, there are plans to create a cultural complex complete with modern recreational facilities in the centre of the village.

Granary

The 1.5-acre piece of land on which the Dero Kogelo Library and Cultural Centre will stand has already been fenced off. The project is the brainchild of the Nairobi-based Dero Community and Cultural Organisation. Dero is the Dholuo word for granary.

Dero’s executive director Ng’wuono Hongo, an architect, says the centre will house a restaurant, eight self-contained cottages, a library, an amphitheatre, and souvenir shops where visitors will be able to buy Obama’s memorabilia.

Mr Hongo is working with the local community to promote their cultural heritage. The 100-seat amphitheatre will host local bands and other cultural activities. Artefacts from the local community will also be on display in the amphitheatre.

The eight cottages designed by Mr Hongo are modeled on a traditional Luo dwelling to reflect the local culture. They will have makuti roofing, and walls made of organic materials such as reeds and poles. The restaurant will serve local and international cuisine.

Mr Hongo says his organisation has already acquired hundreds of books on various issues to stock the library, including a five-volume book on Luo culture published by the organisation.
There is also a collection of Luo music dating back to 1978.

There are reports that the government also plans to construct a cultural centre in the village.

Director of Culture Silverse Anami said a 20-acre piece of land opposite Senator Obama Secondary School has already been identified for the Obama Community Cultural Centre that will include a museum.

The first phase of the project will cost about 100 million, said Mr Anami.

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