Mau Mau Trading Center in Bunyala South – Budalang’i, once a vibrant small town with businesses and inhabitants, is trying to recover from harsh effects of water logging from the heavy back flow from Lake Victoria, which displaced hundreds of families in Budalang’i destroying structure that left traders counting loses.
The infamous Mau Mau village in Bunyala was named after pre-colonial Kenyan freedom fighters, having started as a hide-out for the anti-colonial movement.
“The term Mau Mau was coined during the struggle for independence from colonial masters with the intention of Africans taking over power from imperialist white rule,” said Adriano Okello Dero, a retired Assistant Chief of Bunyala South Sub-location.
He claimed that the rallying call was for colonialists to return to their homeland and leave Africans to rule themselves.
The old man recounted how fighters from different tribes including Kikuyus, Luos, Luhyas, and Kisii’s were frequently nabbed by the colonialists and taken to different islands on Lake Victoria for imprisonment.
He added that whereas the Mau Mau insurgents would be taken to various islands as a means of punishing and scattering them, they would meet their counterparts on those islands as fishermen, who would help them to escape.
“Due to poor communication networks, the fighters would hide here during the day and knock on people’s houses at night in need of food,” said the resident, adding that it was mandatory for home owners to receive them and give food or risk being killed.
He however pointed out that if the colonialists discovered the homes that opened their doors and fed the insurgents, they would be in big trouble. This made residents very fearful.
“Things have drastically changed around this village ever since, and we have experienced a lot of developments following attainment of independence,” he said, adding that the county government needs to do more in terms of improving the living conditions of Mau Mau residents.
The town has a rich history with a beautiful view due to its geographical location next to Lake Victoria, the town was a busy bee before the calamity left many counting losses.
The streets that used to serve the small town are now over-grown bushes and hideouts for criminals attracting illegal activities even as traders choose to stay away.
As those displaced, were all full of hopes of water subsiding to allow their return to what is left of their homes, angry and flooded Nzoia River attacked dykes that have always protected the area from flooding, damaging them in several places simultaneously allowing tonnes of flood water to drain into the villages adjacent to the Trading center and the entire Mau Mau.
The residents are now urging the County Government of Busia together with the national government to consider changing the centre into a museum or historic site that will generate money to both the county and national government.
“This town can be a great history centre for the country. The government must strive to invest in local tourism and culture,” urged residents.
He lamented that he had lost his residential houses to floods, which are very prevalent in the area and urged National and county governments to consider his plight and other affected residents with regard to compensation.
“I appeal to authorities to construct dykes in this area to ensure that during floods, the water does not overflow to our premises,” said Odero.
Floods are a perennial problem for Bunyala residents, and have led to many challenges including high levels of poverty and food insecurity.