Perched above the drab town of WEBUYE, at the junction of the A1 and the A104, are the lonely remains of Chetambe’s Fort. This was the site, in 1895, of a last-ditch stand by the Bukusu group of the Luhya tribe against the motley line-up of a British punitive expedition, which had enrolled Ugandan, Sudanese, Maasai and even other Luhya troops. A predictable massacre, in this case by Hotchkiss gun, took place, with negligible losses on the attackers’ side and equally few survivors among the defenders. How the British managed to storm the scarp in the first place, however, is a mystery: presumably the Bukusu were all inside their walled fort at the top. Resistance among the Bukusu continued right up until independence (see The wildlife of Kakamega Forest).

The “fort” itself is quite unimpressive, and in fact not easy to make out: all that remains these days is a circular field covering several acres, surrounded by a shallow ditch. The spot where the British placed their deadly gun, opposite the fort’s main entrance, is just west of the water tower and is now marked by a small concrete memorial, dated May 11, 1988 (the day the emplacement was declared a monument). The people who live nearby are glad to show visitors the site, and can tell you stories from their grandparents of finding bones in the compound area, of women coming here to weep in the evenings, and of animal sacrifices to the dead warriors.

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