Long before Kenya began recording its history, Jesus of Nazareth walked in the country and specifically in Rwarera Village, Meru County, residents believe.
They say that their village, which lies at the foot of the three sister hills of Jamuta, is the holy Jerusalem because of Makinya ja Jesu which translates to ‘Jesus’ footprints’. The set of human-like footprints is etched on Katheruko, an area of sedimentary outcrop where natural salty water flows.
Next to the footprints are other prints that look like those of a hoofed animal, perhaps a horse or a donkey.
An elderly man has brought his flock to lick the salty outcrop as he rests under an acacia tree. Like prophet Habakkuk, his eyes are transfixed on the rolling, misty Nyambene Hills in the East. The man, startled by the writer's presence, grins and extends a limp handshake.
“We believe they are footprints of Jesus and his donkey during the entry into Jerusalem, which is Rwarera. No mortal can step on the ground and make such an imprint on a hard surface as this. That must be Jesus,” says the elderly man pointing to the outcrop.
“In 1992, a Catholic priest arrived here and said these are the footprints of Jesus. It has since been revered and often pilgrims come here to take the holy water and say a prayer.”
The quiet, rocky and acacia dotted area is tucked on the side of the Meru-Ruiri-Isiolo road; one hour from Meru Town and 30 minute from Isiolo Town. It is dotted with natural salt water springs, and residents refer to the water as Mwonyo. Locals believe that Mwonyo has medicinal properties that alleviate a range of skin diseases and relieve constipation.
“I take a fill of Mwonyo to relieve constipation after a heavy meal of beans,” reveals Riungu, a carpenter in Mugae shopping centre.
“A few generous gulps exterminates monster worms; we use Mwonyo to assassinate the intestinal worms,” adds Makena.
A cut-out cooking oil tin floats in the ‘holy pool’ and visitors use it to quench their thirst. The ‘cup’ has been in the pool for quarter a century according to Kiambi, a resident of Rwarera. Visitors are advised to leave it there for the next user.
Nestled between the dense, elephant-teeming Nkunga Forest (giant spider forest) in the north, a jagged blue, misty Kirima Kia Ng’ombe (the mountain of the cattle) in the South, rolling hills of Nyambene in the East and the three cone-shaped Jamuta sister hills in the West, the spot is a photographer’s haven.
Travelers are spoilt for choice of accommodation as many hotels are in the vicinity. Some are Alba Hotel, Three Steers, Nevada Place hotel, West Wind Hotel and Nkubu Heritage Hotel. Isiolo also offers a wide choice of hotels such as the Grande Hotel, Northern Galaxy Hotel, Shamz Hotel, Silver Bells Hotel, Crystal View Hotel and Lewa House.
The residents of Rwarera hope that they will be allowed to manage and conserve the serene Makinya ja Jesu and the springs, which lie on public land that is used as a gazing field.