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Isiolo Kenya

Isiolo Kenya
Isiolo, Kenya feels like a large bus stop, everyone in the city is either coming or going somewhere different. I could just hear someone saying,
“I am in Transit; I will leave for Nairobi tomorrow.”

A few Hotels even go as far as to call themselves the “Transit Hotel” or “Transit Lodge.”

I also was in Isiolo, I also was in transit, however I had no idea where I was going, most tourist know where they are going, they want to say they are nomadic or wanders, however I wonder if they know they are using these words incorrectly.

It took me three nights before I made up my mind, and I was feeling pressure, there was nothing to photograph in Isiolo, I tend to want to leave when there is nothing that demands a photo.

Isiolo, Kenya
East Africa
Sunday, April 5, 2009

I finally in photo desperation left the chaotic Hotel center of Isiolo and walked past a big Mosque towards the market hoping to find something. On my third walk down to the market area I discovered a “Tum Tum.”

I walked towards this Islamic Mosque, the design here in Kenya has changed, I saw the same design in Moyale, Kenya. These Mosque look more like Forts and less like buildings, I consider it a little dangerous to take photos around Mosque, so this one photos was as far as I went, I stepped between two large trucks, pulled, shot and was gone in less than five seconds.

Mohamed Abdullahi and Godana Hassan Tour Guides in Isiolo, Kenya.

“Tum Tum,” or workshop for Metal, there are men are making nice knives, spearheads, and farm equipment in Isiolo, Kenya.

This was my third trip to the market, however as I was again turning a corner in the market I heard the familiar sound of men working steel forges. I stuck my head down a path and all of a suddenly a man says,
“Welcome, come.”

Coming is not always a good idea; normally “coming” is a conversations trap. If I “come,” then I must be willing to listen to their sales pitch or their desire to be tourists. Meeting locals is a two way street, I want to meet them, and they want to meet me. If there is a group of locals they can demand I sit there and explain who I am so they can enjoy the tour, this takes time, and happens continuously, I am the tourist attraction.

Mohamed Abdullahi and Godana Hassan were great, they explained in good English how they made the Knives, how the different tribes used the knives to cut thorns from the hooves of animals because the are “pastoral people.”

It was interesting; there is still a need for spearheads for spears. They need the spear to be married, and there is a need also to kill crazy lions, that sometimes come and eat their farm animals.

They will explain how they make both steel and brass knives, how they take camel leather and make a sheave for the knives, it was truly a good experiences.

Either inside the Isiolo, Kenya market you can also and up close look at some of the tribal women who come to the market to buy or sell. I am not sure the tribe, all the tribes of Kenya tend to blend together in the larger cities of Kenya.

I think the tour guides want to take you to smaller village areas close to Isiolo to show you special tourist shows. I avoid these types of functions; they turn into “faked authenticity” shows and give the tourist what they are expecting, not what is real.

Isiolo Kenya


Great pictures, Andy. I like the look of the knives, too. I think Id be tempted to buy one though, I like knives. Too many survival shows I guess...