UNESCO World Heritage Center is dedicated to identify and recognize places of cultural, historic, scientific or physical importance to humanity all around the world. In order for a place to be established as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria.
Undoubtedly, UNESCO World Heritage sites are phenomenal and not just any splendor place to visit. Thus, Thimlich Ohinga to be named among the 1,092 World Heritage sites, proves that Kenya has a rich heritage and beautiful sceneries. Here is a moment to be proudly Kenyan.
Believed to more than 550 years old, Thimlich Ohinga is a complex stone-built enclosure having walls that vary from 1.0 to 3 meters in thickness, and 1 to 4.2 meters in height. The walls were built from densely interlocking undressed rock blocks in place without using mortar.
Thimlich translates “frightening dense forest” and Ohinga means “a large fortress” in Luo language of the Luo community in Kenya.
This ancient structure is located on a gentle sloping hill 46 kilometres north-west of Migori town near Macalder’s Mines. Also areas of Karungu, Kadem-Kanyamkago, Gwassi, Kaksingiri Lake headlands, Kanyidoto and Kanyamwa have sites that resemble Thimlich Ohinga. The exact coordinates to locate this site on the map are 0.9731°S 34.2583°E.
Currently, the area and its surroundings are occupied by the Luo community who are bordered by the Gusii and Luyha communities. However, history claims that the area was first inhabited by bantu-speaking people possibly the Gusii and Luyha –particularly Maragoli and Banyore, before abandoning for reasons unknown. But, it is speculated that the Luo drove them away during its invasion 300 years ago. Thimlich Ohinga was formally vacated at the beginning of the 20th century.
A 52-acre stone-walled settlement, Thimlich Ohinga is an architectural marvel of its kind. The main attraction is its high and robust perimeter walls that shields the settlement from external threats. These walls have very small entrances purposely to easily subdue intruders. Within the walls are the ruins of homesteads, sacred sanctuaries, animal sheds, compartments having sections where men used to play games like ‘ajua’ and ground stones for women to grind grains.
Research done by the National Museum of Kenya uncovered that there were activities such as pottery, animal rearing and farming. Animals that were reared include cattle, sheep, goats, chicken, ducks and guinea fowls.
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