Kenya’s forgotten 16th-century walled settlement finally gets Unesco World Heritage status

Mildred Europa Taylor July 03, 2018
Entrance of Thimlich Ohinga

Kenya’s tourism sector is set to witness a boost in its fortunes as Thimlich Ohinga, an ancient stone-walled fortress located in the town of Migori has been awarded world heritage status by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The fortress, which was said to be used by ancient people in the area to protect themselves against attack and their livestock, was named among three new sites awarded world heritage status by the UN body last Friday.

The 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee made the announcement following a meeting in Bahrain.

Entrance of Thimlich Ohinga

According to Unesco, the dry-stone walled settlement, which was probably built in the 16th-century seems to have “served as a fort for communities and livestock, but also defined social entities and relationships linked to lineage”.

“It is an exceptional example of the tradition of massive dry-stone walled enclosures, typical of the first pastoral communities in the Lake Victoria Basin, which persisted until the mid-20th-century,” it added.

The almost 600-year old historical site, which is almost like the ruins of Great Zimbabwe in southern Africa, has its walls built of loose stones and blocks without any dressing or mortar.

Even without any mortar, the structure is still in place, despite some parts being destroyed by weather or other human activities.

Thimlich Ohinga — World Monuments Fund

Kenyan authorities have so far indicated that the new status given to Thimlich Ohinga means that more works needed to be done to improve the site and make it easily available for tourists.

“We are going to improve roads leading to Thimlich Ohinga. We must take advantage of the latest recognition by Unesco because tourism is wholly devolved,” Migori County Director of Communications Nicholas Anyuor told news site Nation on Monday.

Thimlich Ohinga — Pinterest

With this new status, Thimlich Ohinga ceases to be a property of the host country, as it is now a global property that will benefit from funding and other technical assistance from Unesco and other donors.

Get more details about the legendary Thimlich Ohinga in the following video:


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