Africa’s rock art dates backs to thousands of years. Kenya is one of the countries in Africa with some of the oldest abstract engravings. Kenya possesses a fascinating variety of rock art which offer an extraordinary connection through time.
Many early paintings are exceptional art in their own right, expressing ideas, beliefs, imagination and a mean of visual communication that cannot be found through conventional archaeology. They have great value for modern generations who are interested in their origins and intellectual development.
By visiting rock art sites, you get a chance to understand the beliefs, ideas and imagination of past and present human societies, as well as their impressive technical and artistic ability and you, get to support local tourism. Here are rock art sites you should visit in Kenya.
1.Kakapel Rock Art Site
Located on a huge rock shelter in the Chelelemuk hills in western Kenya, rock art at Kakapel national monument has paintings that date back to between 2,000 years and 4,000 years. Some of the art found here is believed to be the work of Twa (Pygmy) hunter-gatherers. It has paintings illustrating wild animals and stylized cattle, as well as geometric art. Some of the latter may have been made by ancestral Teso people who live in Kakapel today.
Damaging the site attracts huge penalties.
2. Mawanga and Kwitone Rock Art Sites- Mfangano Island
Most of the rock art on Mfangano island consists of geometric paintings believed to have been made by Twa hunter-gatherers who made similar rock arts in Kakapel roughly between 2000 years ago.
The main rock art sites on Mfangano Island are Mawanga and Kwitone. Mawanga cave is situated only a short walk from Mawanga village and was used by the Suba people for rainmaking rituals until the 1980s while Kwitone shelter is located near the top of a mountain above a sacred forest and can be reached from Mawanga on foot through a forest. The current inhabitants of these places are the Abasuba.
3. The Rock Art Of Namoratunga
Located in north-eastern Kenya in Turkana, these rock art of Namoratunga mainly has rock engravings dating back to over 2000 years.
Most of the rock engravings in the area consist of geometric designs although some animals, such as elephants and giraffes, can also be found. It is believed that at least some of the rock engravings were made by Twa hunter-gatherers because similar images have been found from the areas they habited in East Uganda and parts of Lake Victoria basin.
4. Rock Gongs of Lewa Downs
Lewa Downs is located on the northern slopes of Mt Kenya. Lewa Downs rock arts consists of geometric and abstract rock paintings as well as of rock gongs. The ancient rock gongs of Lewa Downs Wildlife Conservancy produce a range of sounds when struck with a hammer. It is believed that early man used these rock gongs for rituals and divining purposes
Hand axes and other archaeological fossils found in this wildlife conservancy make it clearer that Kenya is the cradle of mankind. The site may have been used for rainmaking rituals like other sites on Mfangano Island.
5. Loiyangalani Rock Art
Loiyangalani rock art is found in Marsabit County. Loiyangalani means a place of many trees and the art here of giraffes and other wild animals shows that the place was once full of wild animals. The art here consists of ancient images and symbols that tell us of different eras when the region, often referred to as the Cradle of Mankind, teamed with wild animals and supported diverse human populations.
Most of the art was made by hunter-gatherer/Ndorobo people who were forest dwelling people closely related to the Pygmies of eastern Congo. The place was probably heavily forested like a thousand years ago.
6. Nairobi National Park Rock Art
Nairobi National Park has a rock art site in Mokoiyete Valley. There are rock shelters and overhangs used in the past by Ndorobo hunter-gatherers and Maasai Pastoralists while paintings are believed to have been made by Maasai pastoralists’ during warrior initiation ceremonies called ol pul
7. Elephant Rock Art
The epic rock art is located at Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in Samburu County.