Manga Cliff: Abagusii spiritual site

Manga Cliff is a historical, quiet, breath-taking tourist attraction site for both local and international tourists.

Covering almost 100 acres, the cliff is a natural boundary between Kisii and Nyamira Counties.

Nyamira County covers the top of the cliff while Kisii County covers the lower end.

Manga Cliff is majorly covered with rocks and trees.

According to William Nyangweso, 65, strange happenings used to occur in the region in the 1960s and the years before.

“This cliff has been in existence for the longest time. My grandparents and great grandparents believed that these holes used to speak at 6.00 pm when winds blow, however, the voices were not clear.”

Mzee Nyangweso adds that the hole, Ng’oro ya Mwaga, located at the base of the cliff, was and is still used as a ritual site to cleanse those possessed with spirits. 

“People used to travel from far, bringing with them goats, hens and even money depending on how they’ve been advised. Everything that was brought here and left overnight was never found in the morning. It was then believed that the spirits had been appeased.”

Individuals who wanted to sacrifice animals to cleanse people possessed with spirits had to follow instructions such as beginning the ceremony at five o’clock in the evening.

They were also required to eat all the meat as they were not allowed to leave the sacrificial site with any leftovers.

In case any meat remained, it was burnt before their departure.

The animal’s skin and intestines were also left behind for the spirits.

“The sacrifice was for family members only. In case a possessed woman was being cleansed, a doe was sacrificed while a buck was sacrificed for the case of a man. Both of the goats were supposed to be white. Children were not allowed to eat the liver of the sacrificed animal,” Mzee Nyagweso affirmed.

During the drought periods, the Abagusii gathered at a vast space near the cliff to dance ‘Ribina.’

Men and women participating in the dance had to dress up in traditional clothing.

They would dance in a circle.

It is believed that a few days after the ceremony, it could rain.

“During the drought season, older women assembled here wearing traditional clothing ‘ching’obo and ebiting’e.’ A rainmaker named Sakawa from Marani would then lead the dance. He would not leave the place until it rained,” Mzee Nyagweso said.

Victor Mokua, 31, a Manga resident says, he learnt about ‘ribina’ and its songs from his grandmother.

He adds that whenever they passed near Ng’oro ya Mwaga, they would tie grass knots due to the fear of the spirits.

They would also carry bundles of firewood and throw them in the holes.

Manga Cliff has continually stood the test of time as a religious and recreational site.

It remains one of the picnic stopovers that offers tourists a view of the beautiful sceneries of the Southern parts of Kisii up to the lake regions.

By Everlyne Bosibori 

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