Mungoma Caves: The womb and shrine of Maragoli people

Wednesday March 30 2016

The Mungoma Caves in Vihiga County are a sight

The Mungoma Caves in Vihiga County are a sight to behold. Tucked in the remote village of Mungoma, the caves are made up of several enormous boulders lumped together, leaving hollow winding openings inside. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By VIVERE NANDIEMO
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The Mungoma Caves in Vihiga County are a sight to behold. Tucked in the remote village of Mungoma, the caves are made up of several enormous boulders lumped together, leaving hollow winding openings inside.

A walk through these openings takes close to one hour. But the darkness in the caves will scare the faint-hearted, so visitors are always advised to carry a spotlight to have a clear sight of this intriguing natural wonder.

The caves are revered in the larger Vihiga for their tremendous cultural significance. The site offers a sneak peek into the history of the Maragoli, a sub-tribe of the Luhya people.

The rocks serve as an enduring link between the people and their past. Two Maragoli traditional huts have been erected at the foot of the rocks to symbolise that the founders of the Maragoli nation once inhabited the place.

Indeed, the caves are considered a shrine of the Maragoli. The place is called Hango humulogoli (the home of Mulogoli). The Maragoli believe that the founder of the sub-tribe, who was known as Mulogoli, lived here for a long time.

It is said that Mulogoli had four children who were born and brought up in the caves before they migrated to various parts of the former Western Province. This is why local residents will always be spotted in the area paying homage to their cradle.

‘This place is very important to us,” said Mr Umwigizi Andisi, a resident.

“Whenever the community is troubled, we visit it to seek intervention from our ancestors.”

BLESSINGS FROM GODS

Before elections, local politicians are fond of visiting the shrine to seek blessings from the gods.

This natural site has seen scores of tourists throng the place in a bid to satisfy their curiosity.

“So many people — even the foreigners — visit the place to see for themselves what nature offers here,” added Mr Andisi.

The Vihiga County Government plans to build a resort centre at the caves, to maximise on the tourism potential of the rocks and caves.

The caves are home to various animals and insects — including wild rabbits and beautiful lizards, which scamper for safety the moment they spot a human approaching.

Surrounding the caves are beautiful rocky hills that provide a panoramic view of the county. From the hilltops, one can see Lake Victoria in the horizon. The hills also provide a perfect site for birdwatching.

Not far from Mungoma Caves are the picturesque Maragoli Hills.

The Bunyore Shrine, which is highly revered among the Bunyore sub-tribe of the Luhya as home of the gods of the tribe and which is used by the famous rainmakers, is also a stone’s throw away.