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Origin of Kenyan town names – K’s

The town is named after a missionary called Barnet, from Alsace, France. The local inhabitants of the region are Tugen, a sub-tribe of the larger Kalenjn community. They added the prefix ‘ka’ meaning homestead in their language, thus Kabarnet – homestead of Barnet. It was the administrative headquarters for Baringo district since 1907, when the colonial government made it the seat of the local government.

The name “Kajiado” comes from the word “Orkejuado” which means “the long river” in Maasai language. The seasonal river named after the town runs west of the town. The original name for Kajiado was “Olopurupurana”, which means “a round elevation”.

Kericho takes its name from the Maasai chief ole Kericho, who was killed by the Gusii people in the 18th century.

The origin of the town’s name has not been established. One theory is that it was home to the region’s first public hospital, built by the British at the dawn of the 20th century. Medicine in the local Kipsigis language is referred to as kerichek. Another theory is that the town was originally the home of a medicine man named KipKerich.

Kisii town was originally known by the Gusii community as ‘Basongo’. It is believed to have originated from ‘Abasongo’ which means the White people or Whites, who lived in the town during the colonial times. The town was originally established by British soldiers who were being forced to retreat from Lake Victoria by heavy gunfire from German soldiers’ gunboats during the Great War in the early 20th century.

Kisumu literally means a place of barter or trade, and this comes from the local word “sumo”. Kisumu has warmer temperatures than Kakamega, because it lies below the hills on the shores of Lake Victoria. Kisumu is the third largest  city in Kenya and capital of Nyanza province. In 1901, it became the administrative centre of the region with the completion of the railway line from Mombasa.

Kisumu literally means a place of barter trade “sumo”.

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