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Welcome to Mulogoli’s abode

By Eric Lungai | September 21st 2016
David Kisia shows a visitor the entrance into Mulogoli’s home. The ‘doorway’ has a rock that seems to dangle in mid-air. (PHOTO: ERIC LUNGAI/ STANDARD)

A journey into the home of Mulogoli, who was the founding father of the Maragoli, is not for the fainthearted.

Mulogoli is said to have made his abode deep within some caves located on a stony hill at Lyagidaywa village, Vihiga County.

To get inside the cave, one has to be ready to maneuover past a massive rock that dangles dangerously overhead before venturing into pitch darkness. Then there are the conditions one must meet before setting foot into what is considered a holy abode.

“One cannot go into the caves where Mulogoli used to live if they have sired twins or they have a record of being involved in immoral vices such as adultery,” says David Kisia who guides tourists into the caves and acts as custodian of the Maragoli culture.

One may choose to dismiss this as nothing but common folklore but residents do not take these instructions lightly. It is believed that a huge snake guards the caves and those who go in without consulting the old men, who guard the place, or those who have a tainted past will suffer considerable harm if they go in.

“When one enters the cave, the elders talk to various animals living inside, so they do not harm them. That is why you must consult them before going in,” says Joab Kitagwa, a retired teacher, who volunteers his services to educate young people about their culture.

Because it is totally dark inside the caves, Kisia says the best time to venture in is during the morning hours.

“These caves face the direction where the sun rises from. Visibility is therefore possible during this time because the sun’s rays penetrate in,” Kisia says.

Those who have gone inside say underneath the rocks, Mulogoli’s house is as organised as any modern home with seven sizeable rooms.

There is the altar (Muvwali) where he used to pray, the prophetic drum’s place (Mungoma), the cave (Muluhano) where he slept, the springs (Kidaho) where water is easily accessed, the cemetery (Vilindwa), the arms’ store (Mulisiagalo), and the assembly hall (Muluhya).

According to Kisia, Mulogoli’s journey into the current Vihiga County was completed around 1560 AD. His first destination in Luhya land was at Maseno and he later moved to Kizava at Ijikolo (Musunguti area).

He finally moved to Mwigono where he settled in the cave with his wife, Kaliyesa and where they sired five children, a daughter and four sons. The daughter, Kavogoi, died prematurely leaving behind the sons who make up Maragoli’s four major clans.

Mulogoli, also called Mulaguli meaning prophet, had a special drum for his prophetic purposes. Unfortunately, the drum, Eng’oma, lost its power in 1920 when Machayo, its operator, died and the area invaded by missionaries.

“The Eng’oma would emit different sounds and this was said to speak of the different conditions that Mulogoli required met,” Kisia said.

The prophetic drum had a human hand tucked in it, covered with animal skin and tied to a special type of tree.

Mulogoli also had a special clay pot, for his metrological observations, and this had finger millet in it.

The pot and the Eng’oma with their contents have since been taken to the regional museum where it is believed they are easily accessible than in the caves and are better secured.

The county government is currently fencing the caves, to preserve their historical significance and plans are underway to construct four huts to represent Mulogoli’s sons: Musali, Mukitsungu, Mukilima, Mumavi.

Elders under the banner of Hango Ha Mulogoli Self Help Group, have sought for funds from Government to enable them build more huts around the caves, which they guard, and also beautify the place.

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