By Galimo Askumo
Merti is a town located in Isiolo County, about 520 kilometers from Nairobi. It has a dark history as one of the fourteen ‘concentration camp’ sites in the North where locals were detained for years during the ‘Shifta War.’ The town has shed that past and become a vibrant center in the North. Being my hometown, I spent a couple of weeks here over the holidays and came back with these photos.
Vantage point view of the town..
..the main street of Merti town..
The town is bordered by a hill on one side..
..and Ewaso Nyiro river on the other.
..the river in particular was a favourite chill spot. Temperature in the town averages above 35 degrees at this time of the year so the riverine forest was a good place to cool down and enjoy the best of mother nature.
The river is quite wide at this point as it approaches its destination, the Lorian Swamp.
I stumbled upon a tree house in the forest, owned by a farmer who stays safe from lions and hyenas by sleeping above the ground..
..the view from the tree house.
The town is predominantly Muslim as evidenced by the 7 mosques in a town of about 20,000 inhabitants..
..but a Christian quarter exists in Merti, christened ‘Manyatta Father.’ The church stepped in to help locals after the end of the Shifta War and their legacy lives on. There are several churches in the town as well as a Christian community center. It felt good being woken up by praise and worship songs from churches and seeing people co-exist peacefully. The harmony is such that Churches are built using signature features of ‘Islamic Architecture’ such as the horse-shoe arch and minaret-like bell towers.
Transport from Merti to other towns further North doesn’t come easy. You end up paying a fortune for the luxury of riding in the back of this old Land Rover.
Sunsets in this town are incredibly vivid and colourful. The hill provides a perfect backdrop that adds to the magnificence of it all.
All in all, I had a great vacation in this town where modernity and wild nature exist in close proximity. It takes quite an effort to get there but the experience is worth the journey. A good excuse to Tembea Kenya off the beaten path.