By Muli wa Kyendo

Christmas is the best time for Christians and others of faith to visit Makueni where women found an image of a mother and child carved on a rock. Villagers—and others from further afield—believed  the image was that of  Mary and her son Jesus. The strange thing is that after the brief bravado made on the discovery of the image, everything died down.

The County Government of Makueni led by Professor Kivutha Kibwana has not harnessed  the event to create a stream of religious tourists to the areas. Instead they have stayed silent apparently preoccupied in their own small squabbles.

The discovery of the image was not a coincidence. The area has attracted Christians and other European explorers ever since the time Whites set foot on the Kenyan mainland. First they settled at Kibwezi, a scenic ancient town that lies below the volcanic, mythical Kyulu or Chyulu Hills.

The hills are a national conservation area where those who have sneaked into the thick forest and made illegal residences say that water oozes from under making their structures inhospitable. But the one enduring story is that of a large cave which has been a home to various people of various races since time immemorial. It has housed Arabs, Germans and Europeans of all shades. The last of them were the Germans who, for some strange reason closed the mouth of the cave with a huge door and threw away the key.

The Golden Egg

Inside the cave,  it is said, there lives a large snake with  glittering golden eggs.  If you are courageous and can get one of the eggs, you become instant wealthy. If you think that this is an empty story, think again! Many people from Ukambani who are rich  today are  said to have collected such eggs. One of them became so rich he flew to London for business and was dropped back home with a chartered plane. He is still a very rich man, using his wealth to vie for a political seat.

The people of Makueni County make and live their stories.  In real, many get-rich  (or shall we say courageous) people actually attempt to find the wonder cave. Not many years ago, newspapers in Kenya carried the story two fellows—obviously Kambas — who tried to make the treacherous journey. After being told that special medicine was required for the journey, the get-rich- quick  fellows brought a “real” medicine man with them so that he could replenish the medicine should it become weak before they reached their goal.

The greedy fellows and the medicine man camped in a small market  waiting for day break to start the journey to the cave. Unfortunately for them, residents of the small shopping centre became suspicious and killed both the men and their medicine man. That is where the newspapers took up the story.

Waiyaki and Kibwezi

Of course, Kenyans do not know that White settlers first planted coffee in Kibwezi. But it was in Kibwezi that the settlers also buried the legendary Kenyan freedom fighter Munyua Waiyaki face down. And according to stories, the curse resulting from this despicable deed  killed the settlers and dried up their crops. So they fled the place.

Today, of course, Kibwezi is like the headquarters of NGOs with their European representatives making their new presence.

There is much more that can be said about the County of Makueni, but the question is: What does all this have to do with the image of a woman and a child on a stone? You could say this is how they relate. Or you could also say that is how they relate. And nothing could be wrong. In the fertile world of fiction and reality in Makueni County, everything goes. It is perhaps that which makes life interesting in the County. It is also perhaps that which has impressed and entranced visitors.