Kenyans may not know the many interesting facts about the place called Fort Ternan. Its original Kipsigis name was Kapkures before it was changed by the British colonial government in 1903.
Lying at 5,107 feet above the sea level, and some 270 kilometers from Nairobi, Fort Ternan was very important to the colonial government because it marked the western limit of the so-called White Highlands – areas alienated by British settlers and specially set aside for European settlement. Machakos Town – some 65 kilometers east of Nairobi, marked the eastern limit.
The area is the home of Fort Ternan Museum which the Kericho County is promoting as part of its efforts to improve tourism. The museum is among the famous prehistoric sites in Kenya.
Home of Humankind?
In 1961, Louis Leakey, the famous archaeologist, visited the prehistoric site and discovered fossils dated between 15-12 million years ago. The fossils are kept in the museum and include the famous Kenyapithecus, a fossil ape discovered in 1961. Kenyapethicus raised many theories one of which states that Kenyapithecus may be the common ancestor of all the great apes.
The site has 243 items displayed to the tourists visiting the site including Nandi rebellion regalia and weapons, human bones, tooth, gourds, traditional Kipsigis and Nandi attire. Colonial caves adjacent to the field in this area are a landmark features and makes the site more attractive to both local and international tourists. The caves were used as hide out while engaging an enemy in battle.
Mohamed, the elephant
The fossils of Kuresiet is also found in the museum and is estimated to be aged 12 million years ago Kuresiet is an indigenous tree and not exotic as it was earlier suggested by the researchers.
Other attractions include 12 million year old fossil of Mohamed, said to be the largest elephant.