By AMOS KAREITHI
The thunderous roars of the angry giant have long been drowned by the violent waves. Meanwhile, the occasional feeble chants of worshippers damning the unwanted spirits into the lake waters sound like whimpers.
It is rare but expected for the worshipers, coming straight from their church a kilometre away, to march in rhythm to the drums. This they do with their Bibles occasionally thrust in the air. As the worshipers reach the shores, they chant as they symbolically fling invisible loads to the lake, as its waves rush at the headland, creating undulating waves.
Their mission accomplished, the members of The Last Calling Church leave the beach as noisily as they had come, with songs and chants, promising to battle the spirits any time they venture anywhere near their church. It is strange that at this time and age talk of physically banishing spirits is still rife in an area where fishermen and oarsmen converse in whispers whenever they pass certain sections of the troublesome waters.
The land jutting out of Mawigo headland near Winam Bay has a very strange name, Soklo Kipenji, which loosely translated means, “the hill whose name you should not ask about.” It captures the fears and beliefs of the locals. A visiting oarsman who tries to ask the name of the hill is violently silenced by the sailors who fear capsizing in water for annoying the spirits.
The story of the spirits and that of Nam Lolwe, another name for Lake Victoria, is intriguing and entwined with the mythical history of the origins of the lake that is believed to have been formed by a benevolent super being, a giant.
Acting as unofficial historian at Osiri beach in Kendu bay, Andrian Onyando, a natural storyteller retells the story of Nam Lolwe, the bad tempered giant who answered the cries of drought stricken residents by passing urine on them.
“There was a major drought at the time and the people residing here at Osiri pleaded with the giant to come to their rescue. They were so desperate that they did not mind the giant’s urine which they hoped could rescue them from certain death from thirst,” Onyando narrates.
The people pleaded with the agitated Lolwe, who was towering above them until the giant unsympathetically shrugged off their pleas and reprimanded them with a voice that sounded like thunder. So huge was the giant that when he talked, his voice caused the earth to quake. But the residents were so desperate in their want that they egged Lolwe on.
Tired of being nagged, the giant started passing water as he stomped around, creating deep depressions on the ground he stepped on, even as his urine collected in pools of hot liquid. Finally, Lolwe walked away from Osiri and rested on the opposite side on a mountain, Got Matedo, where the impression of his bottom was formed after he rose from his seat
This, the residents believe gave the hill that they regard as the cooking mountain its funny look, with its depression on the top as is typical of volcanic mountains. “It is suspected that he peed all the way to River Nile and all the people living around Lake Victoria and along River Nile from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan and Egypt owe their existence to our peeing giant, Lolwe.”
To a visitor Osiri beach may take the stories of spirits and peeing giant as myths meant to frighten children by the fireside, but to the locals they are real. Luka Ramogi, a canoe man who frequently ventures into the fresh water lake will not allow any of his passengers to mention the hill that spirits do not want asked about. “These are nasty spirits.