- Mzee Dzombo said that if you mess with the unseen creatures, like going to the depression while drunk, they will whip you.
- It is believed that the valley was cursed by a Giriama rainmaker who visited the village and asked for water because she was thirsty, but locals denied her.
Perched between Bamba and Vitengeni road and bordering Arabuko Sokoke Forest in Kilifi County is the Nyari depression.
The Nyari gorge is found about 20kms from Kilifi Town near Nyari Primary School. For decades, the feature has harboured different myths.
The depression is also home to some traditional herbalists. However, the conditions for one to venture into the deep thickets are not easy to meet: one has to either contend with them or face the wrath of the spirits.
I visited the site in the company of Nyari village elder Charo Dzombo and another resident Albert Kidewe.
However, I was warned against going deep into the valley until I had satisfied the elders that I met the required conditions.
Believed to have occurred in the 1900s, the Nyari gorge is attached to several Giriama cultural beliefs.
The depression is an odd sandstone gorge engulfed in several legends and myths.
It is one of the best kept secrets of Kilifi County, with many people just observing it from a distance. Occasionally, you will be welcomed by baboons.
“Even if it becomes too dry, this vegetation would not go away. If you come here at night, you will see people moving in and out of this valley.
We have for all those years believed that there are people who reside here but they cannot be seen,” said Mzee Dzombo.
He was categorical that if you mess with the unseen creatures, like going to the depression while drunk, they will whip you. Only the cane is visible.
“Those creatures living beneath this place are very clean. They don’t want any dirty or drunk people to mess with them. If you come here at night, you will hear their movements. But do that if you have met all their conditions,” the village elder added.
According to Mr Kidewe, it is believed that the valley was cursed by a Giriama rainmaker who visited the village and asked for water because she was thirsty, but locals denied her.
“The agitated rainmaker is believed to have asked god for rain and it rained cats and dogs, leading to sinking of the entire village. Animals were buried and that is why every evening when you come to this place you will hear the voices of people, indicating that there are creatures still living in that valley,” he said.
Mzee Dzombo said visitors cannot access the valley without a ritual being performed to appease the spirits, or else they might find it rough while inside.
“You are not allowed to go inside with trousers, but only in shorts and shukas. While inside you must first of all seek permission from the spirits at the entrance. If you don’t do that you might encounter a huge snake that will definitely terrify you,” he warned.
Mr Raphael Katana, who is the chairman of the committee that takes care of the depression, said the community holds the myth that the gorge occurred after a village with nine families sank after a heavy downpour that lasted for days.
Mr Katana said a woman diviner was travelling from Shingwaya, which is believed to be the original home of the Mijikenda, to Weruni (now Kaloleni).
“The woman came to the village which was on a hill and was not happy with the way of life of the villagers. The villagers had ignored the Giriama traditional way of life and were living like Sodom and Gomorrah,” he said.
The legend further holds that the woman urged the village to change from its wicked ways or face the consequences.
“The community which lived here was the Amwaziro clan, which I come from. The woman said she would come back and when she comes she expects to see changes.
When she came back things had worsened. The villagers practiced immorality and was very mean. The diviner shed tears and went her away,” Mr Katana added.
It is narrated that immediately she left, it started raining and it rained for several days. It is at this point that the village sank.
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