Ukambani is a general name for the Kenyan region that holds the largest population of the Akamba. Believed to have migrated north from Tanzania in search of food and water, the Akamba were long-distance traders who often sold and bought items from the Kenyan coast pre-colonialism. They are also known to be great artisans with a talent for wood and stone carving. But above everything else, the Akamba are a very religious group having strong roots in both traditional and modern beliefs. As such, here are travel destinations in Ukambani which have strong religious importance.
Baobab Tree Chapel
A few kilometres outside Kitui county, as you head to Ikutha, there is a Baobab forest that stretches a good distance. The Baobab tree is believed to be special because of its unique physical appearance of growing upside down. The Baobab tree is also able to survive harsh conditions, growing higher than most desert vegetation. The Baobab Chapel is a Baobab tree whose trunk has been hollowed out to create something like a dome. It is believed to have offered shelter to long-distance traders during their voyage to and from the coast. The branches of the tree also hold water whenever it rains thus providing water for the traders and their animals. To this day, cattle and wild animals will be seen drinking from these pools of water. The olden Kamba generation would, therefore, use these trees as shrines to offer worship and sacrifice during their journeys.
Kyamwilu Magic Corner
Just on the Machakos-Mitituni road, lies a spot that has often made way to local and international news. The Kyamwilu Magic Corner is a spot on a visibly steep slope that defies all science and logic. At this point, water and other cylindrical objects can be clearly seen to roll upwards towards the hill. This phenomenon is yet to be explained but in the meantime, it is a great site to visit while at Machakos.
Makindu Sikh Temple
A little over 170 km from Nairobi, lies a Sikh temple that has somehow managed to stay under the radar despite its great significance. The Sikh temple was built to what it is in 1926 by the Indians that built the Uganda-Mombasa Railway. It was however established years before that but only took a temporary tin-roofed structure. The temple was initially used as a place of worship for the Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims who frequented the route. Currently, however, it is a spiritual retreat centre open for everyone despite his or her religion. The Sikh Temple offers a tranquil environment for meditation, prayer and self-realization. It also offers accommodation and a common dining area free of charge. However, most visitors offer donations that help keep the institution afloat.
AIC Kalamba Village
The AIC Kalamba Village is believed to be the founding station of the now widespread African Inland Church in Kenya. It was built in 1895 by one Peter Scott. He was an American Missionary sent to Kenya to set up roots of the church while hopefully spreading Christianity. Given the stronghold on traditions the Akamba had, the church took almost a decade to have their first 10 African converts. The church still stands at Kalamba Village with a large signpost of 1895 hanging over its entrance.
Mbui Nzau Hills
These hills lie 5 kilometres from Kibwezi. They are not only a great spot for taking photos and enjoying the great Ukambani sunset, but they are also believed to be holy grounds by the Akamba. Mbui Nzau hills are believed to be the home of the white goat that appears every morning before the sunrise that was believed to hold spiritual powers. The Akamba used these hills as a shrine for their worship and sacrifice.
It’s a sacred sculpture of Jesus held by his mother Mary located near Tala Town; 2.5 km off Kangundo Road.