- The discovery was made after a series of research undertakings done by US and Kenyan archeologists.
- The centre where the millet was discovered also has well-preserved rock art paintings and carvings done by ancient people.
Archeologists have discovered millet they say was buried 2,000 years ago in in Teso North subcounty, Busia.
The discovery was made after a series of research undertakings by US and Kenyan archeologists who had collected seed samples at the Kakapel National Monument and Cultural Centre in Teso North.
The research was done between 2017 and 2020 but the findings were made public on Friday.
Lead researcher Dr Steven Goldstein, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, in an interview with the Star on Sunday said the findings will help communities in Busia and Kenya to understand the feeding ways of ancient man.
He said the findings may also inform the current generation about the significance of consuming finger millet, a crop Goldstein said was domesticated approximately 1,400 years ago.
By the time the samples were excavated under a rock in Kakapel, according to Goldstein, the finger millet had approximately 250 seeds out of the about 500 seeds excavated to facilitate the study. The remaining seeds were from various local grass species.
“This is a breakthrough. From this research we have a lot to learn about ancient man’s ways of life,” Goldstein said.
“I would say the African grains like finger millet and sorghum have been important for farmers during past climate change and we should make sure we keep them as an option facing the future.”
The finger millet seeds were excavated underneath one of the caves at the Kakapel rock that is estimated to be 270 metres high.
The discovery, according to the local community, may open up tourist activity in Kakapel, which they said on Friday can benefit the area.
Goldstein said more research will be conducted in Kakapel since the Kakapel rock has proved to be among the few areas that were occupied by ancient man in Western region during the old migration.
The research was funded by Max Planch Institute and jointly conducted with the National Museums of Kenya.
Kakapel Monument and Cultural Centre deputy curator Anthony Odera said the findings are an eye opener, particularly to the local community which he called upon to preserve ancient lifestyles for better health.
Millet, Odera said, is a food crop that should be adopted for cultivation not only in Kakapel, but across the country because of its health benefits.
Kakapel Monument and Cultural Centre also has well-preserved rock art paintings and carvings done by ancient people who, according to research, lived at the Kakapel rock about 4,000 years ago.
The centre also boasts caves at the foot of the main rock. The caves still have traces of smoke, suggesting the presence of people who lived in caves used firewood for cooking.
The centre hosts an annual festival on December 26 to showcase Teso dance, music, literature, traditional food and beer.
Edited by Henry Makori