What you need to know:
- Locals claim that the huge rock in Kamuiru village, Maragua South Sub-County 'weeps' whenever something bad is about to happen.
- Area residents pay no attention to this scientific explanation and continue to treat the rocks as a holy site.
When a disaster is about to befall the semi-arid village of Kamuiru in Maragua South Sub-County, a huge rock, christened Ihiga ria Ngai (God’s Rock), communicates the omen by ''crying''.
The crying manifests through drops of water coming from the top that incessantly flow to its base. Once this is noted by locals, it is time for villagers to start beseeching God to spare them the cruelty of the disaster.
“When the rock cries, be it during the rainy or the sunny season, we automatically prepare to hurt. It can mean death of people, livestock or acute hunger occasioned by crop failure. It has never lied and, even for the diehard non-believers, they have come to accept that the rock is a guardian angel that God uses to communicate to us,” says 78-year-old local Mzee James Mwaura.
He says the rock “cried bitterly” the whole of September 2018, and on October 17, a middle-aged man beheaded his 32-year-old girlfriend.
“There are so many stories that are attributed to factuality of this stone’s messages to our village. In 1968 it did so and in the neighbourhood, a strange livestock disease killed hundreds. The most recent were last year in November and December when the rock was in excess tears and in March, coronavirus found a home in our lives. Last November, the rock was in tears and currently we are faced with hunger from crop failure,” he said.
Power of supplication
“When we notice the rock crying, we go to our knees… those of us who believe in the power of supplication go into fasting. When it ceases the teardrops, we know God has ordered the tragedies to cease,” Mzee Mwaura adds.
Of the more than 1,000 people residing in the area, only Joseph Kariuki, 33, has found a way to make a living from the rocky marvel. If he senses that you’re new to the area, he will quickly strike a conversation and bring to your attention the marvel of Ihiga ria Ngai where you can pose for photographs.
So convincing is he that many decide to go and have a look. Once they do, nature lovers, especially, fall in love with the landscape. At some point of the tour, Mr Kariuki takes the opportunity to let you know that he sat his Class Eight examination in 2003 and attained 274 marks out of a possible 500, but for lack of school fees, he never proceeded to secondary school. Many visitors acknowledge his plight and reach into their wallets to lend a helping hand.
“I play the part of a novice tour guide and appreciate what my clients can afford to pay me. I cannot fix a price to take people to see the wonders of God and his angel that cry for us. When we cast our eyes on its crying face, we get closer to our creator and we are reminded to pray without ceasing,” he says.
Clean drinking water
The rock has a radius of about 20 metres and is 100 feet high. From afar, a bird’s view of the over 100 acres of landscape gives the impression of rugged sleeping giants that are black and brown in colour.
The rocks sit on privately-owned lands -- and their enclaves were instrumental in hiding Mau Mau freedom fighters and also served as a hideout for Mungiki criminals in early to late 2000.
The rocks are also a source of clean drinking water for the locals who are yet to see piped water. In fact, there are at least 20 rocks that have springs that keep them supplied with water. But when many dry up when the dry spell sets in, the God’s rock never dries and vegetation near it is evergreen.
However, despite the locals’ superstitious beliefs, scientists believe there’s a logical explanation for the crying rocks. They posit that water in the earth’s strata rises through pebbles and sedimentary rocks and permeates to the surface to cause wells and springs. The porosity of the rocks enables them to hold water which, once in a while, will be seen streaming out of them as though they were tears.
But residents pay no attention to this scientific explanation and continue to treat the rocks as a holy site. So revered are they that despite being surrounded by sugarcane and bananas, no one harvests them for they are believed to belong to God himself!
“Many of us wonder how these rocks came to being. So close to each other and they have stood the test of wear and tear … We found them here and they never change. Most of them are granite hence,. even if they were to be turned into a commercial enterprise of say, transforming them into ballast, they would need heavy machinery to do so,” a resident said.
Area MP Mary wa Maua says there are plans to group all rock owners in the village into a co-operative society, register it and seek ways to earn from their rocky heritage.
“I agree with the locals that these rocks are mystic. But, apart from the Rock of God, all the others, with the exception of the ones that are a source of water, can be commercialised,” she said.
She said the God’s rock can be ring fenced and turned into a tourist attraction and the returns ploughed back into the village.
Institute of Budget and Devolution Studies boss Elias Mbau, who hails from the area, reckons the locals are unknowingly sitting on a goldmine.
“It is only that the locals do not know where to start from in the journey to earning a fortune from the rocks. With good leadership in the county and in the national government, the locals can come together and transform their lives. We can found a mining industry worth billions,” he says.
He said the giant rocks cannot be crushed manually since they are ''steely'' and would need National Environment Management Authority (Nema) to approve a technology-driven model to harvest them for use in the construction industry.