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PAN-AFRICAN SUMMIT

Preparations in top gear to host Africities in Kisumu

Among facilities targeted for face-lift include Ofafa Memorial Hall

In Summary
  • Kisumu city manager said the works at Ofafa Hall will involve erecting a perimeter wall, civil works, gardening and beautification of the one-acre compound.
  • The conference is the first of its kind to be held in an African capital city.
Kisumu city manager Abala Wanga during the inspection of ongoing works along Kisumu-Busia highway near Kisumu Airport on Friday.
Kisumu city manager Abala Wanga during the inspection of ongoing works along Kisumu-Busia highway near Kisumu Airport on Friday.
Image: DICKENS WASONGA
Workers beautify Kisumu ahead of Africities on Friday.
Workers beautify Kisumu ahead of Africities on Friday.
Image: DICKENS WASONGA
Kisumu city manager Abala Wanga (in a pair of trousers) during the inspection of ongoing works along Kisumu-Busia highway on Friday.
Kisumu city manager Abala Wanga (in a pair of trousers) during the inspection of ongoing works along Kisumu-Busia highway on Friday.
Image: DICKENS WASONGA

It is a race against time as authorities in Kisumu make last minute preparations ahead of the Africities conference slated for May. 

Already the county has banned pasting campaign posters on buildings and streets within Kisumu's Central Business District.

The city authorities on Thursday issued an advisory on the posters, advising aspirants to take their campaigns online.

The preparations include fine-tuning the beautification of various parts of the city ahead of the ninth africities conference.

The conference is the first of its kind to be held in an African capital city.

Kisumu city manager Abala Wanga has been spotted in recent days supervising the preparation works, which includes completion of Kibuye market, new fire station and Nyamasaria bus park.

Wanga also supervised ongoing works at other parks within the CBD and greening of the Kisumu International Airport corridor.

Among the facilities targeted for the face-lift include Ofafa mMemorial Hall located along the Kisumu-Kakamega highway. 

According the city boss, the centre will host all the invited guest elders from African nations during the week-long conference that has been postponed several times since 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Abala on Friday said the works at Ofafa Hall will involve erecting a perimeter wall, civil works, gardening and beautification of the one-acre compound.

"We will also be renovating and upgrading the hall to include the elder's lounge, a cafeteria and a cultural corner," he said on Friday.

He said it is anticipated that all these preparations will be completed by end of April.

Abala said that traders who have been operating temporarily near Moi stadium are expected to go back to Kibuye market in the first week of May.

The new fire station is also expected to be operational by the same time according to the city manager.

"Governor Anyang' Nyong'o who is passionate about this conference has given firm instructions to me to ensure the works are completed by end of April," he said during an interview with the Star at his office.

Abala said that those who have encroached the Ofafa Memorial Hall compound have until Tuesday to move out.

" The works ought to have started but the facility has been taken over by people who are doing all manner of businesses that are not approved by the authorities." 

He said the county has decided to reign in and restore sanity at the hall and bring back the glory of the facility that once served as a cultural centre for the Luo community.

Ofafa was built with funds from the Luo Thrift, under the patronage of former vice president Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. It was in memory of Ambrose Ofafa, a pre-indendence trade unionist, killed in Nairobi .

The memorial hall for decades served as the Luo nation headquarters. 

Luo rituals were performed at the hall, including holding significant meetings that impacted the community. 

Jaramogi's vision for the hall was to ensure it remain a citadel of Luo culture.

Today, the once Luo cultural centre has become a market place of merchandise, religion and alcohol. Car wash business litters the place, including a garage. 

"Those who operate various businesses at the centre owe the county government Sh45 million in unpaid rates," Abala said

According to Abala, the management of the facility was left in the hands of Luo council of elders on behalf of the community in trust.

"But someone has made it a private business without even processing change of user. They will have to move out and pay what is owed to the county government. " 

 

(edited by Amol Awuor)

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