Changing tourism investment strategy in protecting Nyamira's untapped sites

Emanga Ridges in Kitutu Masaba along the Kisii-Nyamira border. [Eric Abuga, Standard]

Less than five kilometres from Nyamira Town is the 35-meter-high Keera Falls with beautiful unnerving caves at the bottom.

A stone throw away distance from the Keera waterfalls is a cave where rainmakers once gathered to make their sacrifices; a site whose rich history continues to draw imaginations from the young generation.

A few metres from the Keera waterfalls is a cave where rainmakers once gathered to make their sacrifices.

The cheeky young ones, visit the area during the weekends carrying bundles of firewood here to appease certain creatures, a replica of the stories they had been told by their grandparents.

The Abagusii ancestors believed that old men carrying bundles of firewood into the cave could bring about rains after a long dry spell.

They could perform the rites under the waterfall; old men would perform a traditional dance and place the firewood into the cave.

The National Heroes Council is already exploring the possibility of having a monument installed at Emanga in honour of Abagusii's prophetess and medicine woman; Moraa Ng’iti.

Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage Peninah Malonza in her response to an inquiry by Senate Essy Okenyuri said this will be similar to the monument of Mekatilili wa Menza in Malindi town in Kilifi County.

Senator Essy Okenyuri, in her July 2023 statement, had requested the National Heroes Council to have the Abagusii Community Heroes and Heroines in the struggle of independence recognized and featured in the National Archives.

She wants the heroes and heroines from the Abagusii community led by Moraa Ng'iti, among others also featured in the School curriculum just like the likes of Mekatilili Wamenza of Giriama Community.

Cultural Custodian Obino Nyambane says the site has to be preserved. “We have said this not once but several times that we need good programs to market the site and many others within the Gusii region.”

Keera Water Fall in West Mugirango in Nyamira. [Eric Abuga, Standard]

The Nyamira County Government to preserve the site from land grabbing and encroachment as even as the World today marks Tourism Day, under the theme “Tourism and green investment” which highlights the need for more and better-targeted investments for the Sustainable Development Goals and the UN roadmap for a better world by 2030.

The World seeks time for new and innovative solutions to promote and underpin economic growth and productivity.

During the migrations, the Abagusii people are believed to have first settled on famous Emanga hill before moving to other parts of Gusii region.

The Abagusii community refers to this hill as the Emanga ridge. Standing on this hill, one can see the beautiful landscapes of Kisii’s sprawling town.

The hill is full of caves and massive rocks that provided shelter for the people and allowed warriors to spot the enemy during attacks.

Manga Hills served as the first court, which was known as Ritongo during the colonial era and was useful in settling disputes and negotiating dowry prices.

The courts could later be refurbished and opened by Retired Chief Justice David Maraga on the eve of his departure from office in 2020.

The hill has an endless hole known as Engoro Ya Manga, which is thought to have connected to Lake Victoria.

Stories are told of why, when it was bound to rain, the region becomes extremely hot and dry, the ridge will burn and heavy rains will follow. Residents are said to see fire-burning bushes at night, but when they return the next day, they will find no evidence of the mysterious fire.

Bernard Maina, the Nyamira County Executive Committee Member for Trade, Tourism, Industry and Cooperatives says they will begin the process to demarcate the Emanga ridge and put in place programs to market both Ekeera WaterFall.

“We must appreciate and encourage our people to invest in visiting these sites; we market them locally and internationally. We will improve accessibility to all other tourist attractions sites.”

According to Maina, they will improve facilities at Emanga including putting modern leisure facilities to make it more appealing.

“We need to have an appealing scenery that can attract tourists from outside Nyamira and even outside the Country. The Manga hills contain several historical facts; we will preserve this.”