By Lorraine Anyango and Lavender Akinyi
Kit Mikayi’s topography is fascinating, it’s one of its kind, its un-resist ably attractive to any one visiting the area or travelers playing the Kisumu- Bondo road for the first time.
Kit Mikayi is a large rock with three rocks on top. Kit Mikayi means ‘first wife’s rocks’ in Dholuo local language. This large Rock formation, lies in Kisumu’s Seme sub-county and its historic site in its own making .It relates to the greater luo traditions dating many years back.
Kit Mikayi is both a community and a cultural site, a sanctuary yet a tourist attraction site, its uniqueness enhances co-existence among the diverse users and addresses potential factors that influence community participation in cultural tourism for poverty reduction hence sustainable community development.
One of the ancient members of the Kit Mikayi Community, Mama Grace Akoth Waga, married in 1968 to a descendant of Ngeso ,the legend behind the rock, who was bestowed by the clan part of the luo immigrants from River Nile continuously shared old narratives on the rock formation and the traditional beliefs’ around it.
The belief’s and traditions associated with this large Rock are varied .Some believe that Mikayi (the first wife) went up the rocky hill weeping when her husband took a second wife.
Other narratives states that, an elderly man named Ngeso had a great love for the natural stone monument, Ngeso would go sit on the cave under the rock all day .He was so fascinated and consumed by this stone and his wife had no option but to bring his breakfast, lunch and dinner as he lay around the stone, or onto the stone itself .He ate most of his meals there.
There is also another narrative that states the rock formation reflects the Luo culture of polygamy. The rock formation consist of three stones lying on top of each other, Traditions have developed around this stones, Referred to the stones by the names of the huts of the first three wives.
Both in the olden times and presently, this rock structure held great significance for local people. People from different arrears have visited the rock hopping to receive blessings including wealth, rain and spiritual cleansing while others visit to meditate or do some soul searching. Hence different people perceive Kit Mikayi in different ways.
During dry spell elders could converge along the entrance of the rock for meditation and soul searching, where a wondrous snake called ‘Nyangundi’ was believed to decide if they could gain passage into the rock depending on the level of meditation and soul searching. The same evening the snake would move into the lake through some underground tunnel down the rock base and create huge clouds full of mist into the skies called Nyakoi which later transformed to rain.
The rock was also presumed to send visions to people as far as Alego, usonga in Siaya on the need to conduct sacrifices and avert calamities, this people would meet at Kit Mikayi on their night dreams.
People’s perception of Kit Mikayi is influenced by their gendered labor and roles, level of education, education, occupation and age groups. Various songs and dances are performed its content being beliefs emerging from Kit Mikayi’s existence .The most common songs hails praises to the leader from the community .The dances and songs performed here represent the wider cultural, spiritual, natural and economic significance of the site.
Women perceive Kit Mikayi in terms of its connection to nature more so than men , men on the other connect it to traditional beliefs ,The major cultural reason for people visiting the site is mainly for meditation purposes ,other reasons include nature visits and research and education ,People do not generally go their simply for relaxation.
Many recognize Kit Mikayi as a place used to perform animal sacrificial rituals, mainly during morning hours. The rituals were performed because of calamity such as drought or divorce or separation cases amongst the community, the sight has therefore been used to appease the higher power to help the community survive and prosper.
Religious people crowd the rock where it releases water, it is traditionally believed that monument possess therapeutic powers and this water can heal them. It has become a popular local pilgrimage site for the Legio Maria sect who visit the rock to pray and fast sometimes for several weeks. The sacredness of Kit Mikayi site has produced some unforeseen benefits to the community .Which have further led to strengthening of group its cohesion and its connection to nature, such benefits include ecotheirism.
Tourist visit the site to view and climb the rocks, listen to traditional Luo songs, and other dancers visit the homesteads as they support tourism.
Kit Mikayi sacredness keeps the people uplifted and driven to continually preserve the site .The luo people thus properly care for it and devote their time to share the story and significance of the site to others being it’s a natural site that reflect a vibrant heritage.
the stone also reflects a nuclear family which is evident in the in the luo community, where by the father, who is Ngeso, the second at the middle being the wife and the other stones lying beside the middle stone, symbolizes the children .Importance of conserving and preserving the site is not only for its cultural, Herbal, natural and spiritual reasons, but also for economic reasons as well. Kit mikayi has given life a religious or spiritual meaning to innumerable groups of people, Mikayi sacredness keeps the people uplifted and driven to continually preserve the site.
The National Museum of Kenya has worked to physically preserve Kit Mikayi and any other information relating to it inform of documents ,oral traditions and more as National monuments of Kenya.
Cultural tourism along Kit Mikayi has helped improve lives of many luos and has enabled them to overcome some of the challenges they have been facing creating self-employment along with incoming generating activities and improvement of programs has enhanced local participation. This has also led to the need for training and education of people within local communities so as to produce group of trained people to steer tourism. It has also promoted community pride by allowing people to work together to enhance economic and cultural developments.
Cultural tourism has also tried to maximize the potential of tourism for eradicating poverty by developing appropriate strategies in co-operation with all major stake holders, and the local communities to access a fair distribution of benefits of Kit Mikayi.
Kisumu County has potential growth as a cultural tourism destination from which local people local people can start enterprise .Since it is endowed with vast lake resources such as beach tourism, bird watching, rich cultural heritage, performing arts, unique formation of Kit mikayi rock.
County has enhanced community development through cultural tourism by involvement of community to ensure that their potential role is tapped and maintained through active participation in tourism industry.
There are several analysis that have been conducted on community around Kit mikayi ,The extent to which socio economic characteristics of the local people influence their participation in the cultural tourism, analysis on education level ,as well as tourism policy frame work.
Kisumu County has also ensured that research is done, Focused group discussion was also employed to establish the cultural significance of Kit Mikayi tourist site. The researchers collaborated with the village elders to identify and select residents participants were drawn from Kit Mikayi site.
The county is also planning to construct a bore hole to boost domestic work and farming activities and farming for residents living near Kit Mikayi. It has also opened more business opportunities where by women from different ethnic groups gather and sell their products like jewelries, African attires, beads, African cooking pots etc.
Conversational and others have started using the economic benefits of the sites to encourage people to remember their traditional beliefs and Oral history of kit mikayi and traditional beliefs and oral history of Kit Mikayi and promote conservation efforts around the site. This long lasting traditions are helping to conserve and preserve the site for the betterment of members of the community.
There are several factors that have affected growth of Kit Mikayi as a natural site: ethnic mistrust, inadequacy in competence among the internal sector management
Inadequacy in competence among the internal sector management, the community neighbouring Kit Mikayi lack seriousness in regard to the stones, outsiders like tourist who normally frequent the site tend to benefit much example the research they conduct and write articles of the site.