Rock art at Lewa

One of Kenya’s oldest and most intriguing rock painting sites is found on Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and yesterday we took a trip to see them.

Below a large boulder high above the river on the eastern edge of the conservancy is a large square boulder with an ancient rock overhang on one side that in times gone by made an excellent shelter. The inside of the shelter is decorated with geometric and abstract paintings – white concentric circles, grids and lines on the pinkish rock surface along with (possibly more recent) ochre paintings.

These have been identified by TARA (Trust for African Rock Art) as Twa paintings, perhaps made between 1,000 and 3,000 years ago. The Twa are a hunter-gatherer people now extinct whose art is found from Zambia and Mozambique in the south of Africa and up through east and central Africa to the Congo, Gabon and Senegal.

In Uganda and around Lake Victoria similar sites with concentric circles were (and in some places still are) used for rain making rituals – maybe the Lewa ones were too. There are very few examples of this type and age of rock painting in Kenya the only others being in Loldaiga and Sera.

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