Abindu caves in Nyahera Village, Kisumu County, are revered by locals who throng the site to pray, fast and seek divine intervention.
Although little is known about their history, the caves are popular among both Christians and Muslims who believe that they are divine.
“Located only 12 kilometres from Kisumu city centre, locals prefer visiting the caves instead of flying for hundreds of kilometres to holy places in Israel or Saudi Arabia,” said 70-year old Naftali Omedo.
According to the area residents, writings on one side of the gigantic rocks are a sign of God’s presence. “The letters inscribed upside down are understood to have been written by God himself and can only be read by people with spiritual powers,” said Mr Omedo.
Residents say a former University of Nairobi student, Aboro Adete, visited the caves in the 1970s and deciphered the letters. “Adete glided up and down the rock walls mysteriously and revealed that the word was: D-A-A-L-M-O-N-H-A-M,” he said.
However, he did not interpret them. The meaning remains a mystery and locals have avoided farming around the caves.
Before Adete left, Mr Omedo says, he warned the community against cutting trees and cultivating land near the caves. “People who defy the warning experience mysterious happenings such as unexplained injuries or their farm tools disappearing,” he said.
It is believed that earlier inhabitants sacrificed animals to the gods and prayed for rain and other needs at the caves.
The name Abindu is a corruption of Kibindo, the name of a Kipsigis sub-clan that inhabited the area, but now lives in Kericho County.
Mr Omedo says the Luo chased away the Kibindo. The caves attract about 50 worshippers daily, but the number can hit 200 on weekends.
The caves can accommodate up to 2,000 people at a go, Mr Omedo says. “A special cave can only be accessed by people who are filled with faith. One cannot come out if one is not devout.”
The site is frequented by Legio Maria sect members out to “replenish their spirituality”. Almost all the caves are littered with candles.
When we visited the site, we found 54-year-old Consolata Sewe praying. “I have experienced immediate results every time I come to pray here after facing difficulties in my life,” said Mrs Sewe, who had travelled all the way from Muhoroni Sub-County.
She likened the shrine to Mount Sinai where Moses, who led the Israelites out of Egypt, used to go for a one-on-one conversation with God.
All visitors pay Sh50 to residents, which goes towards conserving the caves.
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