OUT&ABOUT: Houses white settlers left behind-PHOTOS

Wednesday November 1 2017

Tamu health centre in Muhoroni Constituency,

Tamu health centre in Muhoroni Constituency, Kisumu County. It's a Sub-County hospital. The building's previous owner was a white settler. PHOTO| BENJAMIN OPIYO  

By BENJAMIN OPIYO
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Before Kenya gained independence, this territory was known as East Africa Protectorate under the British Colony.

The highlands were reserved for the white settlers, something that didn’t augur well with the Indians. The highlands were considered rich and fertile .

The preserve for whites in the country were Rift valley and areas bordering the high lands. One such place was Muhoroni, the heart of Kisumu county.

It borders Kericho and Nandi counties, areas considered to be fertile hence conducive for farming.

In Muhoroni, the white settlers built houses, with some still standing to date.

The buildings were built with the colonial fare and epitomized the grandiosity and influence of the whites living in the country at the time. They grew crops and kept animals.

The house owned by the family of Peter Odoyo.

The house owned by the family of Peter Odoyo. It was originally owned by Lord Kitchener. PHOTO| BENJAMIN OPIYO

In 1963,when Kenya attained independence, the white settlers left the country leaving behind their farms and iconic buildings behind.

Kenyans moved to occupy the lands and houses that were previously a show of white's rule and wealth.

In Muhoroni, Kisumu county lies three such houses that hosted the settlers and have since been occupied by Africans after they bought them.

In a small centre in Tamu, a two-hours drive from Kisumu International Airport, a partly stone walled building has stood the test of time.

It used to be a home to one of the white settlers but the government later took possession and turned it to a local health centre.

To qualify the standards of a hospital, the government renovated it. But a look at it still gives the impression of a century old building built with stones.

To understand the history behind these settlements, I visited 94 year old Habil Obiero who lives two kilometres from the hospital.

The old man says he moved to the settlement scheme in 1962. “I have spent a huge chunk of my life here. I schooled and settled here,” he says.

It has been 55 years. Habil tells me that the structure was owned by a white man but after he left, a man named Benjamin Okang' acquired the property.

TRIES TO REMEMBER THE EVENTS

“Okang’ bought the property but the government took possession of the building and turned into a health centre, that’s what stands their today,” he says, trying with much difficulty to remember the events.

The structure resembles a mansionette further telling that it was a home to one of the white men that Habil couldn’t remember his name due to old age.

After it was turned to a hospital, the rooms were partitioned to create more space benefiting a health facility.

That has not erased its rich history.

George Muga who has lived at the settlement

George Muga who has lived at the settlement scheme since 1962. PHOTO| BENJAMIN OPIYO

It still stands, with the stones signifying change that is inevitable in life; first owned by a rich white colonialist and now by the government as a health centre with parts of it renovated.

A kilometre away from the art piece stands another signature structure of whites' opulence in past day Kenya.

The house is now owned by the family of former Nyakach MP, Peter Odoyo. Catherine Odoyo confirmed that the previous owner was a white settler, Lord Kitchener.

RICH AND SUITABLE FOR FARMING

The house stands on a hill with a picturesque view of the fertile lands, a testament that white men lived in the area.

The highlands that were rich and suitable for farming were a preserve for the whites. Even today, the area is known for farming.

The family refurbished the house after many years of withstanding strong winds experienced in such a hilly place, despite the exercise the structure still embodies the classic Arabian-themed building befitting a lord.

The house is facing another typical affluent white man's abode sitting on a hill six kilometres away.

It is a thirty-minute drive from Chemelil Sugar factory on the Kisumu-Eldoret highway.

The house was refurbished by the new owner, Mr

The house was refurbished by the new owner, Mr Ajowi, but later abandoned. PHOTO| BENJAMIN OPIYO

After the white man left, an African family took ownership of the house after buying it. I am told, the family sold it to one, Mr Ajowi.

George Muga who has lived at the settlement school since 1962 says Ajowi decided to refurbish the house because it had become dilapidated.

“This house is a shadow of the white man's house,” says Muga.

The property is now deserted after the owner who inherited the house moved to a different home.

Habil Obiero said that the house was originally owned by one, Mr George Martin, a white settler.

The houses may be refurbished after new owners took over but they still stand out as historical marks left by the white settlers after the country attained self-rule.

These century old buildings provide a perfect glimpse into Kenya's history.