Tucked in the Western corner of Kenya lies Kisumu county; a beautiful part of our country that has recently had an almost overwhelming amount of attention highlighting its beauty and culture. For the October issue of the Vogue Magazine guess who graces the cover for the third year in a row? Our very own Lupita Nyong’o! Deciding to do it differently from all the other times/models, Lupita brought the magazine to her home to celebrate the African story, land, people and culture.
When you look for the destination site for her photo shoot you hardly get any information besides the fact that it was in Kenya. However looking at the pictures that captured a simplistic beauty it’s hard to ignore the scenery that compliments the message of showing Africa to the world. So what is it about this place that drew both Lupita Nyong’o and her team to do a world renowned photoshoot on its shores?
Kit Mikayi is a rock formation which is 70 metres high. It is located along the Kisumu- Bondo road in Western Kenya. In Dholuo language, which is widely spoken in the area, Kit Mikayi means ‘‘stones of the first wife’’ or ‘‘First wife’s rocks’’. The rocks are located 30 kilometres east of the lakeside city of Kisumu and one kilometre from Kisumu-Bondo road. The sign board is on the gate of Kit Mikayi primary school and entrance is via N’gop-Ngeso primary school.
The rocks, themselves stand on top of each other almost like a stack of Legos which clasp at your heart with the anxious feeling that they could topple at any minute. Yet they stand firm. This is just one of the reasons why one cannot just pass by without stopping to stare in fascination at what has come to be known as ‘Stones of the First Wife’.
What begs belief about Kit Mikayi shrine in Western Kenya is how an old man sank into it and his body later found floating on Lake Victoria eons ago. The man was on a mission to discover how deep the mysterious hole in the shrine that had a snake coiling and devouring animal sacrifices was.
Also added to the mysterious beauty of the Kit rocks are several legends and myths surrounding it. One being the story of an old man named Ngeso who adored the rocks. Every day he would go to rest under the shade of the rocks for the whole day. This forced his wife to bring him all his meals at this place. So whenever people would ask her about the whereabouts of her husband she would tell them knowingly with a smile on her face, “He has gone to be with his first wife (Mikayi)”. This was one reason for the naming of the rocks as ‘The first Wife’.
Original People shared an interview they conducted with Mama Grace Akoth Waga, married in 1968 to a descendant of Ngeso, the legend behind the rock who, has been bestowed by the clan the duty to narrate to any tourist the tales about Kit Mikayi. Waga says that Mzee Ngeso was part of the Luo immigrants from along River Nile in Sudan many years ago who fell in love with the rock after setting up a home at Oredho, just a stone throw away from the rock.
“One day, Mzee Ngeso took a saunter from his Oredho home and found the rock fascinating. He left the spear which he carried and rushed back home to break the news to his six wives. Henceforward, they settled near the rock and he built his first wife (Mikayi) a hut. But the women were gripped by fear of the rock falling on them” Waga adds. She says that the women convinced Ngeso to relocate to a place called Ngo’p Ngeso where they had a happy family that gave rise to the now famous clan in Seme called Joka Ngeso (The descendants of Ngeso). This did not whittle away Ngeso’s interest in the rock, for he still spent a lot of time there entertaining guests, most of who came to fetch herbs at a fee. This was his enclave to mould pipe and pray for the community.
Daily Nation shared how others opine that due to its features, the structure represents the traditional Luo cultural polygamous family which had the first wife’s house (Mikayi) built further in between. The house of the second wife was built on the right hand side (Nyachira) while the third wife’s house (Reru) was built on the left hand side of the homestead.
The rocks are not just aesthetically pleasing but spiritual as well, at least according to most of the locals. Many believers especially from the Legio Maria sect often troop to the place to worship and offer sacrifices. “Kit Mikayi is a world spirit. It is a holy place. During times of catastrophe like hunger and famine, the Luo elders would conduct sacrifices here and the rain and bounty harvest would follow” explains Waga, adding that the rock would send visions to people as far as Alego Usonga in Siaya on the need to conduct sacrifices to avert calamities.
It is a place highly respected by the Luo community and Kenya as a whole since it was made a tourist destination by the Kenyan government. Now, because of Lupita’s shoot it is a place that gives a small glimpse of Kenya to the rest of the world; deliciously inviting to the lover of beauty, culture, and nature.