Vihiga, Kenya: For the Maragoli community, ‘Imbinga’ (the shrine) is a sacred place so revered that only few and specific people would be allowed to set foot there.
This was a small cave walled by huge boulders and it is here where prayers and sacrifices would be offered for the community.
And so when the mystic stone of Imbinga began to crack in the night at the weekend, terror struck. This, to locals, is a mystery and only their ancestral spirits could tell what had gone wrong.
On Friday evening at around 11pm, a huge boulder cracked and rolled down causing great damage of property and minor injuries to those living near it. The stone came crashing down at a house owned by Mzee Peter Edambo Lugaria, 64, in an event that shocked everyone.
“I have lived here all my life and I have never seen events of this kind. We have watched these stones ever since we were young but that they would one day come down is something that we have never thought of,” says a shaken Mzee Lugaria of Kituru location.
“Long ago, underneath the caves, our fathers used to offer prayers to ancestral spirits. We are wondering if the ancestral spirits have turned against us.”
The scary experience has got several people living under the mystic stones thinking and some have started fleeing their homes for safety.
Lugaria’s wife Jane, broke her left arm as she scampered for safety and her chilling story indicated that authorities were aware that this would happen.
“I own the house that was smashed but on the fateful night I had sought housing at a relative nearby and when the stone started coming down I went out and saw everything,” said Jane.
According to her narration, a strange sound started emanating from the rocks since the onset of April and as days went by, the sound became even louder.
“The area chief toured this place and warned us of the awaiting calamity and we heeded his pleas and that is why we left the house which is adjacent to the rock,” she continued.
Another witness Mzee Zaphan Luyara said, “The events happened in a span of minutes. It is very chilling to me whenever the thoughts replay in my mind.”
News of the cracking of the ‘sacred stone’ has spread in Sabatia and Vihiga County and beyond like bush fire. When The Standard team visited the site they encountered residents streaming there in large numbers to witness what they described as ‘wonders of the world’.
“I have been receiving telephone calls from people as far as Nairobi and Mombasa inquiring about the incident,” said area chief John Kidali. “But it is confusing because the callers have different versions of the same story.”
“Some called and asked whether what they have heard — that a stone in my location is talking — is true, while others claimed the stone dropped from the skies and started making quire voices,” he added.
Calls for vigilance
He also said he has been hosting various visitors including media practitioners since the incident happened. However, the chief called for calm and asked villagers to remain vigilant and report any strange happening.
The affected family now appeals for Government assistance to help them relocate from the area.
“This is where we were born. We have no other place to go and if the Government can relocate us, we shall be grateful,” said Mzee Lugaria.
Heavy boulders planted on high grounds is a characteristic phenomenon in most parts of the Western region and one particular stone famous with locals and visitors is the mystic ‘Crying Stone of Ilesi’ in Kakamega County.