Kenyatta Caves are located in the tiny village of Mwanguwi, about 6 KM from Wundanyi at the foot of the picturesque Taita Hills in Taita-Taveta.
Known to locals as Kino Caves, they are no ordinary feature for the simple reason that at the height of the struggle for Kenya’s independence between the 1950s and 60s, they housed the famous Kapenguria 6 who included the first president of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, Bildad Kaggia, Kung’u Karumba, Fred Kubai, Paul Ngei, and Achieng’ Oneko. Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Tom Mboya, and Mbiyu Koinange also visited the site.
As their home and base, Kenyatta Caves provided a strategic location for the 6 to conduct their freedom war against the British. They would light a fire at night and roast cassava, sweet potatoes and other indigenous foods to supplement the little rations they got from their hosts.
Three women would cook and serve indigenous food to the heroes. Earthen pots and other utensils that were used to cook for the freedom fighters were reportedly taken away from the cave and preserved at the Kenya National Museums of Kenya in Mombasa.
Kenyatta and his friends used to sleep on dried banana leaves and sometimes they would take night walks where they were able to mingle with people.
It is said that at the caves, traditional medicine men would mix charms and give to the goat earmarked for slaughter. After slaughtering the animal, the medicine man would examine its intestines and release predictive results to the heroes.
The caves stand poignantly on one of the highest peaks of Taita Hills. The hills are home to a labyrinth of shrines considered holy among the Wataita. Despite their impressive history, there is nothing to show for these important facilities.
Once a beehive of activity, Kenyatta Caves have been abandoned and neglected. It is now a study in desolation and dereliction and the once lush green vegetation that surrounded it has since been replaced with food crops.
There was once a proposal to have Kenyatta Caves documented as a historical monument during a public hearing that was organised by the Task Force on Criteria and Modalities of Honouring National Heroes and Heroines chaired by Prof. Vincent Simiyu.
It is not clear what the outcome of that hearing was but what is clear is that Kenyatta Caves have not yet received the recognition they so much deserve. If you happen to be in Wundanyi, pay the caves a visit, if only for their historical significance.