Since 1902

A letter from Navakholo, Kakamega's famous town

By Esther Muchene - Aug 2nd 2022
A section of Navakholo town. [XN Iraki, Standard]

Some towns are more famous than their sizes, either in building height or acreage.

Navakholo is one of them.

Last week, on a visit to Kakamega County, I paid a visit to this town, about 30km from Kakamega town on the way to Bungoma.

I was told you either take a taxi or boda boda. I took a taxi. After a few kilometres, next to Shikoti, the tarmac ended and it was a rough road to Navakholo. After about 40 minutes I was in the small town.

I asked the taxi driver why the small town is famous; witches in the past. I did not want more details. He explained to me that most towns in western Kenya have big names but are small.

Navakholo looked like a small tired town, like those of Murang’a.

A few shops, and old buildings selling merchandise, foodstuffs and plenty of boda bodas. There is a new storey building, maybe a sign of renewal.

Driving around for a few minutes, there was nothing much to see. I should have taken tea but was in a hurry. The building canopies were supported, more like those in Uganda or Rwanda.

On the way to and back, I notice the bicycle still liveth but motorbikes have largely taken over.

Plenty of economic activities. There was maize, cassava, sugar cane, bananas and a few other crops.

Mud is still used in architecture but bricks are big with some on sale by the roadside.

Like other towns, once you leave Kakamega, it becomes rural very quickly.

The taxi driver told me devolution is working but politicians never keep promises on fixing roads.

Why are there empty pieces of land? I asked. Lots of people have left for cities. Sad because without a workforce and brains, devolution is not enough to catalyse growth in the rural areas.

The road from Kakamega to Navakholo gave me an insight into this region with courteous people.

The weather is great and the level of education high going by the number of private schools, bookshops and even a building near Kakamega town called BODMAS.

What’s the missing link? Maybe good roads and what Nairobi and other cities have in plenty but rural areas can’t get: newcomers or diversity. While anyone can buy land and settle in Nairobi, bringing money and new ideas, it might not be that easy for Navakholo. But a good road could change all that.

Next time, I will go deeper into this region and understand rural economics, away from textbooks.

Are you from Navakholo? What did I miss out?

Big stones on the roadside used as billboards by politicians? 

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