25 Interesting Facts About Kisumu

Kisumu (formerly known as Port Florence) is a port city in Kisumu County, Kenya.

Some few facts about Kisumu that you may need to know:

  1. The name Kisumu refers to both the city and the district in which it is located.
  2. It is situated on the banks of Lake Victoria, known locally as Nam Sango or Nam Lolwe.
  3. It is the second most important city -after Kampala- in the greater Lake Victoria Basin.
  4. Its climate is classified as humid (over 1,100m a.s.l., for those who know what that means).Temperature can reach as high as 34 degrees celsius during the hot seasons.
  5. It covers an area of approximately 417 Km². Out of this , nearly a third (approximately 120 Km²) is under water.
  6. It is the third largest city in Kenya, a fact that its locals take great proud in. (The other fact we take great pride in is Barack Obama, considered by all to be a native son).
  7. Its locals are mainly of Luo ethnicity, but over time a number of other communities including the Kisii, Luhya and Kikuyu have built a presence in the area.
  8. It has traditionally had one of the biggest Kenyan Asian communities, many of whom were direct descendants of the workers who built the railway line.
  9. Its name is from the Luo word ‘kisuma’, itself a derivative of ‘sumo’ which means barter trade.
  10. It was traditionally a marketplace where different communities came to barter various commodities.
  11. It grew into a town after the Mombasa railway line passed through it in 1901.
  12. The new town was named Port Florence after Florence Preston, the wife of the senior railways engineer.
  13. The township’s boundaries were first gazetted in 1902 when its name was changed back to Kisumu.
  14. It was considered a hardship area by the white settlers due to its very hot temperatures and high malaria rates. (Some settlers, in fact believed -erroneously – that it derived its name from the Swahili word sumu meaning poison because of the dangerous malaria carrying mosquitoes).
  15. Kisumu was also privileged to host the first air flight in East and Central Africa. An inaugural maiden flight from Kisumu to England took place in 1931.
  16. In 1965 Grace Onyango was elected as mayor of Kisumu town, becoming the first woman mayor in Africa.
  17. In 2001, Kisumu City was named the first millennium city in the world.
  18. It is the Headquarters of Kisumu County. The headquarters is housed at the Prosperity House, where the county governor offices are located.
  19. It is one of only two urban areas in Kenya which can be accessed by road, water, rail and air.
  20. Its biggest hospital is the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, known locally as ‘Russia’ because it was built with funding from the Soviet government in the 1960’s. (Its second largest hospital is the Kisumu District Hospital, known locally as either District or General).
  21. While there a very many different food types to be found here, Kisumu is most commonly known for or associated with fish, which is found in plenty and comes from Lake Victoria.
  22. Maseno University, located a few kilometers from Kisumu, has a town campus within the city centre. Other Universities such as Kenyatta, Nairobi and Catholic also have campuses or distant learning centres in the city, offering a wide range of education opportunities.
  23. Kondele shopping centre arguably boasts one of the highest number of bars and drinking places per kilometer in Kenya (if not Africa).
  24. There are a number of hotels and eateries ranging from low end to high end situated right on the shores of Lake Victoria from where one can eat freshly caught fish.
  25. The language spoken in Kisumu are Luo English and Kiswahili with a sizeable number of people speaking Ekegusii, Hindi, Kikuyu and the various Luhya dialects. As is the case all over Kenya, most Kisumu residents speak at least two languages.