The Kakamega Goldfields

The Kakamega Goldfields

The Kakamega Goldfields The recent interest in gold in the Kakamega district reminds us of the first gold rush in the region – in the early 1930s. In 1930 Kakamega township was an open space with a few Indian dukas, but in the middle of the decade it became a prosperous and crowded township. What had caused this transformation? The worldwide slump had occasioned the bankruptcy of many settler farmers and when in October 1931 an American, Louis A. Johnson, a farmer at Turbo and formerly a storekeeper in the Klondyke, turned up in Eldoret with gold he had found at Kakamega, impoverished settlers flocked there to earn a living. Johnson had been alerted to the possibility of gold being in the area by A. D. Combe, of the Uganda Geological Survey, who wrote a report in 1930 on a geological reconnaissance of parts of North Nyanza Province and recommended that prospecting be carried out there. The new arrivals panned for gold on the Yala and other nearby rivers and sank shafts at Kimingini reef. By 1932 there were 200 of them and they had established a settlement. After passing the government boma (the District Commissioner’s office) you crossed a river, and went past ‘Seven Dials’ on a good road up to ‘Piccadilly Circus’ where there were many camps formed of reed matting. The huts were thatched and surrounded by little gardens. From ‘Piccadilly Circus’ you continued to Golders Green, with its lovely view, then to ‘Palmer’s Green’ and finally ‘Hampstead Heath’, where there was an aerodrome, built by an American speculator, de Ganahl. The first miners who found...
Home Guards Killed While Returning Escaped Prisoners

Home Guards Killed While Returning Escaped Prisoners

Solomon Njihia was the head chef for the Rift Valley Academy kitchen when I was a student there in the 1970s. I just heard he has passed away. Another link to Kenya’s past has gone. About eight years ago I interviewed Solomon and he told me a story of how he and a group of home guards captured some escaped prisoners after the Naivasha Prison attack during the early years of the Emergency. The story appeared in issue 11 of Old Africa and we thought it would be good to share it again.  Home Guards Killed While Returning Escaped Prisoners Told by Solomon Njihia Kairu   1953 We noticed a group of people walking up the road in a line at about 11 p.m. near the Kiambogo School above the AIM Kijabe mission station. We went out and stopped them by shouting, “Halt!” We asked who they were. They replied, “We are the ones who were released from the Naivasha prison by the Mau Mau.” They explained they just wanted to find their way home. Many of our people worked at the mission or had gone to school there. A number of us had been recruited to serve as home guards. Some of our home guards started slapping the escaped prisoners with their hands. Others said to stop because we didn’t know if these people were bad or not. They had been in prison, but that didn’t mean they were Mau Mau. We decided to tie them up and return them to the police. We found ropes and tied the escaped prisoners two by two. We borrowed a Mercedes lorry...