Nyamgondho Site is the location of an old legend among the fishing community in western Kenya which centres around Julu, a poor fisherman from Kamuela in Tanzania.
The story is told of how Julu, the son of Ombare and the grandson of Omae, had found a home among the Kachwodho clan in Nyandiwa, next to the present-day Nyandiwa fishing beach.
In Kamuela, Julu had lived a poor bachelor’s life as a fisherman. In fact, they say he was the poorest of the poor. But one day as he went about his routine fishing, he made an unusual catch – a woman!
Oral Luo literature describes the woman as old, ugly and one-eyed. What happened next is captured in two separate accounts that continue to be passed from one generation to the next.
In the first account, which appears to be more popular, the mysterious woman pleaded with Julu to take her home and light a fire for her so she could get warm. In the second account, it was Julu who extended the hospitality.
While quite different, both versions agree on her name – Nyar Nam, daughter of the lake.
After Julu took Nyar Nam into his home and did as she had requested, he later took her as his wife and gave her the name, Adikinyi Nyamgondho, which refers to the time and type of fishing in Dholuo.
Unknown to Julu, this new union had ushered in good tidings to his home. Soon they started having cattle that multiplied by the day. In no time, Nyamgondho, the poorest man in the community, had become the wealthiest in the land – he even took in 2 additional wives.
Julu soon began to forget his humble beginnings. Pride set in and he took to drinking and abusing Adikinyi every other day until one day he decided to kick her out of his house, claiming he no longer had any use for an ugly woman like her.
After persevering Nyamgondho’s insults and beatings for a while, Adikinyi Nyamgondho decided to return back to the lake from where she had come. At the point she made that decision and started off towards the lake, legend says all she had come with, including the cattle, goats and other livestock began to follow her.
Julu tried frantically to stop the exodus but failed. He could not stop Adikinyi’s departure. In fact, in a final showdown, she turned Nyamgondho into a fig tree.
The strange fig tree which was shaped like a human is now gone after some people decided to cut it down against the advice of the elders. There are rumours they all died mysteriously. Many believe it was the curse of Adikinyi that came back to claim their souls.
It is even rumoured that the animals and Adikinyi left imprints of their steps on the rocks by the lakeshore before jumping into the water.
Tourists today, besides coming here to catch a glimpse of the unusual footprint phenomenon, which can be seen during low tide, also pay the ruins of Ombare’s homestead, where now great heaps of rocks lie, a visit.
Apparently, when Adikinyi left to go back to the lake with all the wealth she came with, Nyamgondho’s house collapsed. The place has now become a shrine. A particularly peculiar rock bearing the maps of Kenya, East Africa, and the whole world can also be seen here.
Locals say that the maps are not always visible – they sometimes disappear and you need to have a very keen eye to see them.
This place is by no means a site you must visit while you are in western Kenya. It is located on the Suba mainland in Mbita near Nyandiwa in Homa Bay County and can be accessed by boat.