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12 untold facts about Manga Hills in Kisii Kenya, Emanga Ridge in Gusii culture and traditions

12 untold facts about Manga Hills in Kisii Kenya, Otenyo’s grave site

Manga Hills in Kisii covering about 100 acres is a favourite travel destination with a fresh breath of cultural significance to the Abagusii people. The site is most importantly a sacred monument listed in the National Museums of Kenya. Tourists love Manga ridge and escarpments for their breath-taking view of the surrounding. It is time to forget the rest because our untold facts about Manga Hills are ecstatic.

The glory of Manga Hills dates back to the 18th and 19th century when Omogusii migrated from Uganda to Mt Elgon, Luhyaland, Migori, Kabianga, and eventually Gusii highlands. The rocky Emanga Hill would later become a safe haven for centuries to come.

12 untold facts about Manga Hills in Kisii Kenya

Pieces of stories about Manga Hills rarely place the much deserved value on its cultural and religious value.

For this reason, the full story of how Emanga Ridge became a sacred site has remained untold until now.

1. Omogusii first settled in Manga Hills caves before spreading

At around 1800, centuries old Ngurumuaga caves at Manga Hills welcomed Omogusii who had fled Kabianga – the present day Kericho.

The Kisii given name Kabianga means a place where nothing can survive, especially agricultural crops.

Omogusii called the place Kabianga because its wet and cold climate had failed his favourite crops such as finger millet, sorghum, and pumpkins.

Likewise, frequent attacks from the hostile Kipsigis neighbours left Omogusii moving further south to the present day Manga Hills and later nearby highlands.

The hilly grounds promised a safe haven with fertile soil and a fair ground of seeing an approaching enemy.

More so, a kissing view of the crystal clear skyline on a bright day at Manga Hills may have attracted Omogusii at first sight.

2. Manga Hills is a boundary between Kisii County and Nyamira County

Google Map directions indicates Nyamira to the top of the cliff and Kisii to the lower end of the beautifully flowing slopes.

Bordering at the hillside are Kitutu Masaba Constituency of Nyamira County and Kitutu Chache Constituency of Kisii County.

Emanga Hills is, therefore, a natural boundary between Kisii and Nyamira counties, both in the western part of Kenya.

Emanga Ridge stands out as one of the best locations in Kisii County for your next vacation.

3. Manga Hills in Kisii offers an ambient view of Lake Victoria waters

A trip to Manga Hills is rewarding with a distant but calming view of Lake Victoria.

The sparkling blue waters are distinctly visible, about 60 Kilometres to the nearest shoreline at Homabay.

Notably, the disappearing misty waters extends to Dunga beach ecotourism spot in Kisumu, about 150 Kilometres from the sprawling Kisii Town central business district.

Also within view is the newly opened Ufanisi Resort outlet called, Ufanisi Sky, now disturbing the calm of the hill with pumping music.

4. Engoro ya Mwaga at Manga Hill connecting to Lake Victoria

The mysterious Engoro ya Mwaga is a famous pit believed to house supernatural powers.

Kisii narratives maintain that this deep inlet at the rocky summit of Manga Hills leads all the way to Lake Victoria.

It is striking how the religious significance of Engoro ya Mwaga abyss has remained intact to this day.

For the record, tourists are encouraged to throw sticks into the pit as they ascend the relaxing hillside.

Stick throwing ritual is particularly significant to the ancestors, who are believed to light evening fires.

In addition, strangers should tie knots on the local grass to appease the spirits, which are traditionally known to haunt human beings.

Indeed, knot tying is familiar for those visiting historical sites such as hills and other raised grounds with spiritual value.

In essence, Engoro ya Mwaga is at the heart of Manga Hills and home to all ancestral powers of Abagusii people.

Tales from the old days indicate that those who tried to enter its once open mouth never returned to the living.

5. A hot bed of Gusii culture and traditions

Do you remember Kisii traditional songs such as, Obori bwa baba ekeande? Well, these were all sang in honour of the populous Emanga Ridge.

The song’s pick up lyrical line, “Ekebwe’ ngiakura manga inse,” shares a hint of the long-held cultural heritage.

Elsewhere, stories of elderly women camping at the peak of Manga hill at night to celebrate a good harvest are still memorable.

On the other hand, men camped at the hill with local brew, amarua, to thank the gods for a plentiful harvest.

Besides, young circumcised boys discarded all beddings used during the healing process at Manga.

Visiting the mysterious Emanga Ridge on top of Manga Hills was also part of their graduation to manhood and spiritual blessings.

6. Strange underground caves at Manga Hills in Kisii a fortress

A cave extending from the Nyamira view of Manga Hill to the Kisii view of the hill was important in the old days.

It was not only important for the locals but also the colonial masters who often held parties within its vicinity.

Apart from watching the green landscape, openings on both end of the cave were excellent for watching birds.

Porcupines and other wild creatures have since taken over as the new guests in these fortresses.

7. Manga Hills in Kisii a centre of wars and leadership

Emanga ridge is the ground on which British colonial masters appointed the first Kisii chief.

Even before that, locals used it as a destination for determining bride price and solving family disputes.

Above all, Manga remains an historical site where Kisii warriors defeated armed Kipsigis cattle raiders from Sotik.

Sakawa is alleged to have sent vultures against the Kipsigis raiders, resulting in an easy win for the well-trained Kisii warriors.

Prophet Sakawa has since remained a Kisii hero to this day for this historic role in defeating the Kipsigis.

8. Ajua holes engraved by god on a slab of rock

Historical records indicate that the Ajua holes on a rock at Emanga ridge are a work of god’s hands.

Furthermore, locals denied human involvement with chisels and hammers.

These enshrined Ajua holes are in fact different and with 10 holes instead of the conventional 8.

9. Rigena Riemanga a natural wonder of Manga Hills in Kisii

Photo: The wonders of Emanga Ridge in Gusii culture and traditions . SRC: pickyourday.com

It is not hard to love a protruding stone from the edge of a cliff at Emanga Ridge.

Rigena Riemanga meaning a stone of Manga is the largest at the peak of the hill, next to a firmly erect cross dating back to about 200 years.

The stone is a natural wonder to several visitors who cannot resist its flat top, smooth edges, and gigantic size.

10. The natural fires of Manga that do not consume

Manga is a place of interest for several reasons including natural landmarks that have not found proper explanations to this day.

For instance, ancient residents of Esaba town in Matororo Village, Kemera Ward often reported cases of brightly burning bushes in the dark of the night.

Surprisingly, their next day morning visit to the hill traced no real damages of fire, not even smoked surfaces.

It is a series of these puzzling observations and experiences that resulted in the reverence of Manga Hills.

11. Manga Ridge in Kisii is a spiritual destination for tourists

Manga is home to religious centres such as the Saint Joseph’s Prayer House and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Chapel.

 In between these Catholic Church owned centres and the overhanging Rigena Riemanga is an open-ground prayer centre.

The deep rooted stones offer a quiet environment for prayers especially at sun rise and sun set.

12. Emanga ridge is where the headless body of Otenyo was buried

The brave Otenyo Nyamaterere organised a group of skilled Kisii warriors to rise against British invasion in the wake of 1900s.

Otenyo was raised a feared man by his immortal aunt Moraa Ngiti sometimes called Moraa wa Ngiti.

The Kisii warrior Otenyo is applauded for his warring tactics that almost killed Sir Geoffry Alexander Stafford Northcote in a deadly attack.

The wounded British colonial administrator revenged by having Otenyo executed publicly at the now Gusii Stadium.

Historical books have confirmed that Otenyo’s head was transported abroad and is still kept in the British museum.

However, Otenyo’s headless body was buried at Manga Hill with no trace left on his graveyard.

Attempts to locate where Otenyo was buried have not yet succeeded.

Locating the wonders of Manga Hills in Kisii Kenya

The marvelling Manga Hills and Emanga Ridge are visible in a close range along the busy Kisii-Kericho Road.

This inviting scenery is also about 7 kilometres from Kisii Town, and about an hour walk from the town centre.

The high standing Manga Hills in Kisii County and Nyamira County are a must visit tourism spots in the region. After all, the site has everything from spiritual to cultural and entertainment.