Butere is a town in Kakamega County of the former Western Province of Kenya. It has an urban population of 4725 (2009 census). Until 2010, the town was the capital of the former Butere/Mumias District.
Butere is linked by road to Mumias (in north) and Kisumu (SE). A branch railway line from Kisumu ends at Butere. Passenger service on the branch line was resumed in January 2007 after lengthy suspension.
The name Butere comes from one of the main clans in the division the Abatere subclan who reside in areas such as Muyundi, Masaba and around the township. Abatere were the inhabitants of Butere before the whites made the town its administration station.
Just like its neighbouring sub-counties, for many years, the economy of Butere was heavily dependent on sugar cane growing. However, falling the challenges affecting the Kenyan sugar industry that saw many farmers fail to reap financial benefits from growing the cash crop, many farmers have uprooted the crop and instead engage in maize farming as the economic mainstay. Residents of this division are also small-scale cattle, beekeepers as well as fish keepers.
The people of Butere have also traditionally been small-scale farmers planting sorghum, millet and vegetables which they traded with their neighbours from the south Nyanza with fish from Lake Victoria.
The introduction of maize saw a change of stable food from ugali made from sorghum to maize meal.
Following the increase in unemployment in the sub-county, many youths have engaged in motorbike business (commonly known as boda-boda). This business earns them an average of Ksh500 a day.
In the recent past, there has been an upsurge of self-help groups such as One-acre farm thanks to the foresight of community development leaders and well-wishers such as the Late Eshimuli, Prof. Eshiwani, and Miriam Andai and now Hon. Wycliffe Ambetsa Oparanya, Prof. Ruth Oniang'o, Hon. Andrew Toboso, Fred Omukubi Otswong'o (of Shatieta Self-Help Group), who authored a captivating article of use of intellectual property rights regimes to protect traditional knowledge of local communities among others.
The district is inhabited 17 subtribes, amongst them Abamarama/Abamukhula, Abatere, Abashirotsa Abashisa, Aberecheya and Abachenya. The Marama's most popular dance is the lipala dance and eshiremba (a funeral ceremony dance performed by Abashibanga clan) which seems to be vanishing with modernity. The Marama have been very close to the Wanga and the Wanga king Nabongo Mumia was a son to a Marama woman.
- Moody Awori former vice president, born in Butere.
- Martin Shikuku politician.
- Hon. Tindi Mwale current MP, politician, Community mobilizer, and Entrepreneur.
- Fred Omukubi Otswong'o, Patent Attorney and Ph.D. Student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), self-help activator and leader in 2022
The politics of Butere have been dominated by clan rivalries. Martin Shikuku the area MP since independence represented the constituency with short breaks until he was ousted by Jesse Eshikhati Opembe in 1988 who served briefly until his death. Then former University of Nairobi Lecturer, Dr. Amukowa Anangwe in the 1997 general elections. Anangwe was however in 2002 ousted by flamboyant Wycliffe Oparanya whose popularity was boosted by his youth soccer programme in the division. The Late Mr. Naaman Otswong'o Chirande, Shrewd Businessman and the area Councilor between 1969 and 1974 brought a lot of development to lower Butere Market including the main market, especially selling of cattle on every Monday at the Market. His son Fred Omukubi Otswong'o intends to step in his shoes as the next area MP.
The 2007 elections were won by Wyclif Oparanya as the constituency seemed to abandon Musikari Kombo's Ford Kenya in favour of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) now led by Prime Minister and Langata MP Raila Odinga. This was evidenced by an apparent rush by most politicians to troop to the party among them former Minister Dr. Amukowa Anangwe, Businessman Justus Anyanga Wanekeya and Arch. Mohammed Munyanya. The March 2013 elections will see clan rivalries emerge again.
The formation of United Democratic Forum Party (UDFP) arising from the systematic breakaway of the Pentagon in a rival party wil have a major impact in the forthcoming elections on 4 March 2013. At recent by elections, UDF managed to show its national strength by emerging second in Kangema Constituency.
In Bukura civic ward in Butere, the hitherto dominance of coalition partner ODM was shown to have given in to emerging UDF forces as UDF gannerd close to half the votes showing a similar drop in the incumbent coalition partner.
Butere electorate comprises highly educated individuals and have vowed to consider the individuals performance and character. The usual political wave appears to be blowing in favour of the new UDF party whose Presidential candidate is the Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Wycliffe Musalia Mudavadi. He was recently received by a huge crowd at Sabatia trading Centre which shares a name with his Constituency.
The division is predominantly Anglican though other denominations claim a significant percentage of followers. The outgoing Bishop of Butere ACK diocese, Horace Etemesi successfully used the ACK influence to plant Dr. Anangwe as area MP in 1997 over Martin Shikuku a Catholic but his influence was insignificant in the wake of the 2002 NARC wave. The Late Naaman Otswong'o and Philip Ingutia used the Church to gain mileage in business and farming respectively. Today, most prominent sons of Butere continue to contribute to the Church's development including the scholars like Fred Omukubi Otswong'o of JKUAT.
The Sub-county has one National and one Provincial secondary school(s):- Butere Girls' High School, which is the National school, and Butere Boys' High School, which is the Provincial school. The district also has numerous day secondary schools with Lunza Secondary School being the largest in terms of student population and perennial good performance. Others are Bukolwe, Shiatsala, Shikunga and Bumamu Secondary School.
The introduction of the Constituency Development Fund saw Buchenya Girls' School being chosen as a center of academic excellence due to its central location. Shibembe Secondary, Mukoye girls and Mabole Boys have also been recently established.
There are several primary schools in the district with Butere Primary School, Buchenya Primary, and Shirembe Primary School being more famous.
There are small Kindergartens in the Sub-county including self-help group driven Shatieta Nursery School right fronted by one Fred Omukubi, which require support and assistance in order to guarantee sustained future scholars.