Along the Nyando river lies the Luanda Magere Stone. Here, they say, lies the grave of a great son of Luoland. His name, Luanda Magere, a ferocious warrior who no one could kill on the battlefield. It is believed that during his time, he was made of stone, hence his name, Luanda.
History speaks of a tumultuous time when war broke out between the Luo and Kipsigis tribes. In these battles, Luanda Magere killed very many Kipsigis warriors such that the Kipisigis resulted in peace.
After the negotiation team managed to secure peace, Luanda received a woman from the Kipsigis tribe to demonstrate that the two tribes had become friends.
Unknown to Luanda that this was a ploy by the Kipsigis to learn the secret to his immortality and great strength, he accepted the ‘gift’. But, as the woman lived with Luanda, she came to learn that his strength and his life lay in his shadow.
When war broke out again, the Kipsigis were armed with a deadly secret – how to fell the legendary Luo warrior once and for all. On that fateful day, the story goes that a Kipsigis warrior threw a spear at Luanda’s shadow, killing him in the process – he had already slaughtered many Kipsigis warriors.
As life ebbed away from his body, legend has it that he managed to kill his killer before turning into a stone. Luos believe this stone is the body of Luanda Magere.
Hunters around this site believe that if they sharpen their spears on the rock, they would easily succeed in their hunting expeditions. This story has remarkable similarities to the biblical account of Samson, whose strength was equally a well-kept secret until a woman came into the scene.
An uncommon and exciting twist to this story exists. Apparently, when the spy lady who had leaked Luanda’s secret ran away from Luoland, she was heavy with child.
She also never went back to her people but instead settled among the Uasin Gishu Maasai, who were then roaming the Rift Valley with their livestock, reaching the territory bordering Kikuyu country.
The story goes ahead to tell of a nightly raid of the Uasin Gishu Maasai by the Kikuyu. Among the captured prisoners was the spy woman.
While in Kikuyuland, living among the Ngengi family, she bore a son named Kamau but later baptised Johnstone. Johnstone Kamau later changed his name to Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first president and the father of the current president, Uhuru Kenyatta!
If you travel about 12 KM from the Awasi-Chemelil road, you will come across a brownish rock shaped like the curved back of a human being. The rock, partly sunken, will mark your arrival at the Luanda Magere Stone.
Where the stone lies, they say, Magere died. So many believe the rock is his body. The site of the rock is out of bounds to expectant women. A rumour goes that those who do, miscarry.
Claims abound that skeletons belonging to those killed in the wars fought here at the turn of the 18th Century still get retrieved to this day. You can also see a spear and shield placed under an indigenous tree next to the rock. Locals claim it belongs to Luanda Magere.
On another branch of the same tree hangs a traditional smoking pipe that Magere smoked in times of war. A clay pot covered with a calabash here strangely always has water. People know the water comes from a stream near River Nyando but no one knows who draws it.
While you are here, you might also visit Nyang’oma location in the former Nyando District. Residents believe it to be the birth and death place of Luanda Magere. There are rumours of an invincible warrior that lurks around the site. Villagers even claim he appears to them in dreams.
If you are a snake lover, the sugar plantations surrounding the site harbour several species. Exercise caution as you approach. Locals insist the snakes are friendly because of the spirit of Luanda Magere that lives here. Exercise caution either way and be prepared for the rough terrain and the often muddy, impassable narrow pathways.
It is not clear why a framed picture of the Legio Maria spiritual leader hangs at the site. Perhaps because people, especially locals, revere it as a sacred place. Because of this, nobody can charge any fees for a visit to the rock. Villagers believe receiving such money would disturb the spirit of Luanda Magere. In our curiosity to see what this Luo legend would have looked like. We found inspiration in AIArt – a new fad that employs Artificial Intelligence to generate near-real art. With a few text descriptions and parameters, behold MidJourney brought back Luanda Magere! What do you think?