A sleepy village in Seme sub county turned into an instant tourist attraction on Monday after reports that Jesus and his mother, Mary, had been sighted. Reports of the image on a famous rock christened Kidi Achiel (loosely translated to mean one rock) in Kayila village attracted hundreds of pilgrims.
Curiously, the image was only visible to those who paid keen attention to the rock’s rough edges. Most of the Legio Maria sect members who claimed to see it danced themselves into a trance next to the rock. But not one of them was ready to speak about the ‘revelation’, and details of the sighting were as hazy as the alleged image itself.
Only visitors who accessed the site early Monday morning, as soon as the reports spread across the area, got the gist of the reported sighting. They said a member of the sect had visited the rock on Sunday evening for prayers, as is common with most of the caves and rocks in the area. After the prayer vigil, the sect member claimed to have witnessed a sudden change on the rock surface on Monday morning.
Sect members said they saw the image of Mary, dressed in a flowing gown, sitting with her feet folded and holding a baby believed to be Jesus in her arms, his head nestled under her chin; another baby was seated on her right, leaning against her legs.
After that, news of the sighting spread fast. Pamela Atieno was at her home, about 100 metres from the site, when her children ran to her, shouting that Jesus had been spotted on the rocks.
She was among the first people to arrive at the rock and is ready to swear that she saw the image. “I quickly followed the children to the rocks and upon setting my eyes on the one rock, I immediately identified the image and went down on my knees to pray,” she said.
Within one hour of the reports, hundreds of visitors, the majority of them members of Legio Maria, arrived in vehicles and on motorcycles and bicycles. Others even walked.
The sect members immediately laid claim to the discovery, saying one of their own was the first to see the images. Amid cries of ‘Ave! Ave! Ave, Maria!’ the sect members prayed and danced around the rock, claiming the world was coming to an end.
The rock is 2km from the famous Kit Mikayi - another picturesque rock formation located some 50km from Kisumu town.
Following reports of the Virgin’s sighting, Kidi Achiel is now threatening to overshadow Kit Mikayi as a tourist attraction.
Tuesday, the stone was host to hundreds of people peering earnestly at the rock surface, hoping to see the image. But no matter how hard they looked, some could not see anything different about the cold rock surface.
“I came here a few hours ago and I have been looking at the rock. Honestly, I cannot see what these people are talking about,” said Fred Oduk, another resident.
Others said they had seen signs of ‘a revelation’ way before it happened. “For the past few months I have noticed some parts of the rock falling off,” said Mathews Ouma.
The alleged image has suddenly won over scores of nonbelievers, who are now vowing to fast and pray. But it has also become a source of revenue for some enterprising villagers. By 5pm, a number of them were meeting to plot how much to charge the visitors who kept streaming to the site.