The gold rush in Kenya (Western Kenya to be specific) dates back to 1892, when pellets of the precious metal were discovered at Lolgorian on the Nyanza-Rift Valley boundary. This i will let you know are unconfirmed reports on who – whether Kenyan or colonial- made this discovery, and with no known Kenyan geologist at that time I will let you make an educated guess. Kenya’s first official gold rush was the famous Kakamega gold rush of the 1930’s.
This was fuelled by a report by British geologist Albert Ernest Kitson. In an article published in The Spectator magazine, he described the Kakamega region as ridden with amateur old mining men and failed Klondike Gold Rush gold-prospectors. “The road to Kakamega now resembles a miniature ‘trail of 98’ without the snow. Old mining men, from ex-Klondyke Pioneers to Australian backwoodsmen, are hurrying to the spot”.
Commercial gold mining in Western Kenya and Kakamega in particular started in January 1935 by a British company, Rosterman Gold Mines. With an initial capital of around Ksh 400,000 they begun what was then the biggest mining undertaking the country had ever been undertaken. 17 years later, in 1952 they closed shop describing the business environment as harsh. not surprising though they had milked the land of over 650,000 tonnes of ore worth an estimated 4 BILLION ksh. Needless to say I doubt the government got even quarter of that money.
Since their exit however their have been countless other smaller ventures but the businesses has largely remained an “old mining men” business but their has seen an influx of child labourers and women who have taken up the trade due to the high poverty levels and weak regulation and laws that govern the sector. Residents have very very little to show for it, most risking their lives on daily basis going into the deep mines with only torches and the women and children handling the highly toxic mercury bare hands as they try to sieve out small ounce of the metal from the mud.
last but not least The largest nugget discovered was called the Elbon Nugget named by reversing the surname of its discoverer Dan Noble.
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