River Kisat moves in surges, pricked from beneath by numerous inlets flowing into it from Kisumu City and its environs. Each inlet carries a different concoction of poison.
The river notoriously leaves a nauseating stench behind it that hangs over the air everywhere it passes. On a normal day, it is dark, thick and drags within it all manner of filth, a health hazard in motion.
No river in the Lake Victoria region carries more of the burden of a dilapidated and broken sewerage system than Kisat.
Grudgingly, it snakes through the populous Obunga slums, past Kisumu’s industrial area where fish processing factories, motor vehicle garages and other factories unleash effluent into it.
It accelerates with each slope as it races towards Lake Victoria. As if rushing for freedom, to escape further pain and destruction, it meanders through the final four-kilometre journey of its existence, collecting raw sewage from toilets and back channels of estates and city buildings.
The weight of the sludge within it pushes it on from behind. It hurries further down, gushing beneath the last bridge on the busy Kisumu-Busia highway, not too far away from the Kisumu International Airport.
Shortly after the bridge, it becomes still and silent as it slithers through Nyanza Golf Club, past a creaky wooden footpath, as if not to alert golfers that it was passing by, before it is embraced by the calmness of Lake Victoria.
As it meets the lake at its mouth, River Kisat forms a big brown bowl in the lake, the size of a basketball pitch. The filth in it separates it with the green oily waters in front of it. The final hurdle it has to confront is a green layer of an interwoven carpet of water hyacinth awaiting it. This is before it i s completely swallowed up by the lake and its miserable life forever put to an end.
It is impossible to imagine any waste from Kisumu that does not end up in Kisat.
Ironically, River Kisat also carries poison from the Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company (Kiwasco). Instead of cleaning waste from factories feeding into it, Kiwasco is part of the polluters sucking life out of the world’s second biggest fresh water lake.
As it pollutes the lake from one side, the water company is pumping the same water out of the lake, several metres away. This polluted water is what it struggles to treat and sell to hundreds of thousands of residents in the region.
Kiwasco represents just what is wrong with Lake Victoria.
Not very far away from River Kisat is Kodiaga Maximum Security Prison. Here, the prison does not even try to hide that Lake Victoria is its toilet for the 3,000 inmates and remandees behind its rusty gates.
The prison relentlessly emits raw sewage into River Saka in broad daylight. Downstream, before the contaminated water ends up into the lake, residents are fetching it for drinking and other household uses.