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Eight decades later, another gold rush courts Kakamega

NATIONAL
By Amos Kareithi | October 29th 2021
Gold mining in Migori 1980s [File]

Although the missionaries preached to the "natives" to be submissive promising that only the meek would inherit the earth, the owners of capital never had the intentions of surrendering the mineral rights. 

There was therefore some gold rush in Kakamega 89 years ago as speculators realised that there were millions to be made in the area. Soon, word spread around the colony that buried in the bowels of this virgin land lay veins rich in gold.

An annual report prepared in 1932 by the government confirmed this by releasing figures of the real worth of the riches buried deep in the ground.

In the Annual Report on the Social and Economic Progress of the People of the Kenya Colony and Protectorate, 1932  there was an increasing interest shown in the Kakamega goldfield.

“The favourable report of Sir Albert Kitson, published in October, greatly stimulated the activity of prospectors in this area and in the previously explored field at Lolgorien,” reads part of the report.

At the end of the year, 4,573 reefs and 2,786 alluvial precious mineral claims were in existence. However, there was no activity in an additional 5,900 square miles in Nyanza Province adjoining these goldfields which were excluded from prospecting.

The report added, "in the open areas the smaller alluvial propositions tended to be worked out by the end of the year, but the larger schemes requiring plant and capital were only beginning to be developed."

During the period, serious reef prospecting and mining began as companies with experience and capital rushed to Kakamega.

Gold was a major income earner as the colonial authorities meticulously monitored the process. In 1931, the government raked in 1394 sterling Pound (213,241.50) from the mining of 2,591oz which dramatically shot up to 9,052 oz valued at 53,527 Sterling Pound (Sh8,186,063.96).

Eight decades later, another gold rush is back and there are great expectations that commercial mining will start soon following announcements by Shanta Gold, that it has a high grade, gold estimated to be worth billions.

About ten years ago, there was a lot of excitement in Kilogoris after a London-based company announced that it had processed high-quality gold but it has since closed its operations.

Most of the gold extracted in Kakamega and Migori has been mined by small-scale miners who later sell them to brokers who in turn resell it to dealers who have been exporting out of the country.

The commercial mining, expected to start next year will hopefully wipe the tears by the community which has buried numerous sons entombed in the bowels of their land as they search for the elusive gold.

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