Southwards of Kisumu lays the dreamland of the ancient historic magical Island of Rusinga. It is a place with amazing skies and birds which offers you more of the aquatic culture of Lake Victoria. Rusinga was a Bantu word derived from ‘Lusinga’ meaning Island. It is an elongation approximately 16 km from end to end and 5 km at its widest point, which lies in the eastern part of the Lake at the mouth of the Winam Gulf. The Island has the most spectacular bird outlook in the area and is a weaver bird country (family ploceidae) with about thirty or so of this species including queles, bishops and window birds. The birds can be seen hovering around and above for food especially as the sun goes down in its clear skies flocked with eagles, pelicans, cattle egrets and grey heron.
Rusinga has also been associated with some of the oldest fossils as discovered in a series of expedition led by Dr. L.S.S Leakey. The island is especially known for it’s extraordinarily rich and important findings of mammals dating back 18 million years.
Rusinga Island also hosts the mausoleum of the late Tom Mboya, who is one of the most prominent personalities in Kenyan history. He was born Thomas Joseph Mboya on 15th August 1930 and was assassinated at the tender age of 39 on 5th July 1969. It is widely believed that his profile and illustrious career as a brilliant and charismatic leader, which was seen as a challenge to the then political establishment, led to his assassination.
Rusinga Island is at the crossroad of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, so, it has been influenced by the three countries’ traditional cultures. Here you will experience mixture of cultures where traditional Ugandan or Tanzanian foods can be found in the local menu such as Matoke (rabolo-plantain) as well as all fish and vegetables dishes. Luos from the Northern and South Nyanza mainland also bring their rumba-style music, their round thatched house model of homes and their love of partying to add to the mix.
One other unique feature in the island is the brightly glittering black sands of the beaches made of crystals of melanite garnet, barkevikite hornblende, and magnetite eroded from the uncompahgrite lava fragments in the agglomerates that overlie the fossil beds.
Rusinga Cultural Festival.
The Rusinga Cultural Festival is the event of the year that will take you to one of Kenya’s hidden gems on Lake Victoria. Its two days of nothing but music, fashion, film, food, artistry, literature and sports taking you back in time to the wealth of the Suba culture. As a result of assimilation and intermarriage with the Luo, the Suba culture has come under pressure and the language is now listed in UNESCO’s Red Book of Endangered Languages (2003). Rusinga and Mfangano Islands are in the tentative list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites
This festival encompasses several cultural and social aspects. Activities are in the following major categories:
1. Food exhibition
3. Cultural performances
4. Art exhibition
5. Cultural pageant.fashion show
6. Book exhibition
7. Workshops and conversations (on various topical issues e.g. health, family planning, banking etc)
You will be left in awe as you lap up the rich culture and stunning serenade of nature with every sunset and sunrise over Africa’s largest fresh water lake.
Rusinga Island Lodge
Rusinga Island Lodge exudes an atmosphere of serenity and composure; with its well-manicured lawns infinitely flowing into the waters of Lake Victoria.
Fishing expeditions, sundowner cruises and hippo spotting in the lake it is also very popular for destination weddings. You can also take a late evening to one of the fishing villages and watch the fishermen of Victoria as they put together their nets, baits and lanterns in readiness for the high waters. Whatever you do, be sure to make a meal of the popular Nile perch that is cooked and served in different ways; all delicious and inviting!
Today, the island is a tourist site due to its well-maintained eco-lodges, proximity to Masai Mara and its bounteous birdlife.. Whether seeking century-old tales of the deep blue waters, or looking to experience the presence in luxury, Rusinga Island has it all.