By Maina Kiarie
Kabarnet museum is located in Kabarnet town, Baringo district in Rift Valley province, about 265kms north-west of Nairobi. 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.
Kabarnet museum was the first museum in central Rift Valley. It was officially opened to the public in 1996. The museum is housed in former Colonial and African District Commissioner’s office, a building considered to be probably the first permanent building in Baringo District, constructed by Italian prisoners of War in 1930.
Exhibitions at the museum showcase exhibit ethnographical cultural materials such as agricultural tools, weapons, clothing and jewellery of the Rift Valley people – the Keiyo, Marakwet, Samburu, Pokot, Nandi, Kipsigis; an overview of the history of the district from pre-colonial, colonial and post-independence era. Within the museum grounds are different tree species where one can observe different bird species in their natural habitat.