Vihiga County

Attractions in Vihiga County

11. Givavei Artisans

Also of interest while touring Givavei Cave is a call in on the Givavei Artisans. Descending from the Givavei region, these famed blacksmiths of Vihiga County have survived their sparse antediluvian industry. The artisans and blacksmiths make utensils, decor items, furniture and other objects from wrought iron and scrap metal, for sale. Their craft relies heavily on elbow grease and hot flames.  They offer a rare moment to see this primordial and outmoded craft in motion, using simple but spadework tasks. “The women are extremely gifted in various trades such as pottery and weaving. They form groups and collectively assemble products made from natural materials like banana fibre, animal skin and sisal fibre.” Aside from their practical uses these articles are distinguished souvenirs.

12. Givera Shrine

The singularity of the foot-like imprints on a rock at Givera Shrine, sometimes dubbed as Matsigulu Mystery Rocks, within a five-acres farm in Givere Village, have been the fascination of many a traveller, and, much in the nature of other parts of the world, betoken the presence of deities from the sky landing on site. Rather peculiarly, these ancient oddities, spectacularly known as the ‘footprints of Jesus’, are engraved next to a cryptic maze of indecipherable writings etched on the surface of the rock, which raises the mystique of the site ten-fold. By the same token, the Givera Shrine has attracted a lot of religious attention and has been the subject of old wives tales and myth including that of anyone trying to tamper with both the footprints and the writings would be stretching their luck too far. “In 2009, as the locals claim, a stone mason in the village was struck by an unexplained illness when he attempted to break the rock for construction”. These footprints, first reported in 1965, are a source of deiform power for the community and a pilgrimage shrine for many native denominations. It is also thought these prints have healing powers; where people seek divinity. Givere Shrine is located at Matsigulu near Mbale Town about 11 kms south of Majengo.

For most religions, proof is [including mysterious footprints] the enemy of faith and if someone credible claimed to have proof of God they would be assassinated in the antedellian days – because whose God would it be? Proof of God is a source of division within other beliefs

13. Chabuga Mausoleum

The upturn of modern Christianity in Vihiga County, largely undermining and botching the traditional African religious and cultural traditions, also attracted plenty of attention, allegiance and defiance from the native communities. The African Independent Church (AIC) was the leading Church that grew rapidly in Vihiga. But, it was also associated with colonialism, which locals felt animosity to. In opposition to this fresh wave of Christianity, the African Divine Church (ADC) was launched in 1978, inspired by the Nomiya Luo Church, as the faith for free Africa. Much to the surprise of the missioners and colonial government, the indigenous African Divine Church grew poste-haste. This little unassuming house in Gamalenga Village well-known to many of the locals was the residence for Archbishop Rev. James Chabuga Lilege, the father of African Divine Church.

Mausoleum of James Chabuga Lilege at his home in Gamalenga
Mausoleum of James Chabuga Lilege at his home in Gamalenga

14. Obadi Ombima Mill

Tools have always helped us achieve much and push civilization further. Today, our fast-moving world is a relatively happier one with innumerable gizmos that help us achieve unimaginable outcomes. It is a kindred lesson that life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward. Yet, time is misleading and the changes in technology a very mocking illusion. It’s hard to keep up with its pace, or, at best, resist it. When we do stumble upon an antwacky technology still in use, it is a sincere lesson that man since time immemorial has sought to fix the world around him to better the life of future generations. In Vihiga, at Karandini in Tambua Ward near Givavei, one outmoded mill has resisted the wave of technology and is still hard at work, a century later. This hydro-grain grinder has been owned and operated by the family of Shadrack Obida Ombima since it was set-up in the 1920’s, and is the only-known operational grinder of its kind in Vihiga, and perhaps in Kenya. It offers a glimpse into a foregone era, one that appears ineffably distant, and enshrines the simple ways’ of yesteryear.

15. Sosa Cottages

Situated between Mungoma and Givavei Caves via A1 Kisumu-Kakamega Road and the Gisambai-Mudete Road, about 5 kms from Majengo, is one of Vihiga’s greatest hotels today and one of its most lionized establishment. The 40-rooms (70-beds) Sosa Cottages, that looks out to a wide angle horizon of Lake Victoria, caters luxuriously for many business and casual callers to Vihiga. Sosa Cottages at Majengo offer a practicable holiday-rest for a weekend or longer. It is widely-lauded as one of the credible hotels in Western Kenya offering everyone a warm welcome and exceptional cuisine. Other amenities at Sosa include its swimming pool, lawns, fitness center with gym, bar and lounge and detached traditionally-inspired cottages. A tour around close by Maragoli Hills, Mungoma and Givavei Caves can be arranged. Sosa Cottages is the perfect base for excursions to many popular attractions in Vihiga County. It is located 32 kms north of Kisumu City.

Spatial Location of Sosa Cottages in Vihiga County

16. Mudete Tea Factory

The short 11 kms route from Majengo along the Gisambai-Mudete Road, which runs almost parallel to A1 Kisumu-Kakamega Road, terminates at Mudete and the junction with Stendi-Kisa-Cheptiret Road. Stendi-Kisa Road travels across Vihiga’s northern frontier from Ulumbi to Kakamega Forest through Chavakali and Kaimosi. This road takes in part of the tea country of Vihiga culminating at the Mudete Tea Factory; the largest factory in Western Kenya. Mudete caters to 13,514 tea farmers from Sabatia, Hamisi, Shinyalu, Ikholomani and Vihiga. For first-time callers to Vihiga the brisk and multi layered tea farms around Mudete and along Stendi-Kisa-Kapsabet-Cheptiret Road offers a catchy and memorable drive with Nandi Escarpment sighted to the east of Mudete, Lake Victoria in the south, and Mount Elgon in the north. At Mudete Tea Factory trippers can learn about tea processing. Vihiga County has a yearly output of 10 million kgs of tea.

17. Kaimosi Forest

11 kms easterly heading from Mudete via Stendi-Kapsabet-Eldoret Road sits the 1,000-acres Kaimosi Forest which straddles Hamisi Constituency and parts of Sabatia. Reminiscent of the Kakamega Forest Reserve located about 7 kms east, Kaimosi Forest is a thickly wooded tropical forest that harbours a peck of birds, vast reptiles and monkeys (blue monkey, L’hoest’s monkey, red tailed monkey, black and white Columbus). Both these forests comprise the last remnants of the venerable Congo Tropical Rain Forest that once stretched across much of Central Africa. At Kaimosi Forest, travellers can enjoy guided eco-forest tours, enjoy invigorating nature walks, picnics, cycling and team-building activities. Kenya Forest Service is responsible for the management of Kakamega Forest Reserve, North and South Nandi Forests, Malava, Ikuywa and Isecheno Forests. Withal, Kaimosi Forest is run and owned by Kenyan Quaker Mission Church (QMC) that allows approximately 3,000 locals to use the forest while abiding by local institutions, or local forest-use rules. Of the 22 selected forest areas in the Kakamega Forest Ecosystem, Kaimosi Forest has had the greatest issues with illegal logging. Of the 8,000-hectares of rainforest in Western Kenya, the 150-hectares Kaimosi Forest has suffered from the highest level of anthropogenic impacts. Currently, there are seven villages closely surrounding the Kaimosi Forest – Cheptulu, Shipala, Bumbo, Maganda, Shamakhokho, Jivuye, and Mahanga. Although Kaimosi Forest is currently undergoing swingeing levels of deforestation, it provides medicinal plants, deadwood for cooking, deters soil erosion, and plays a major role in tribal ceremonies, for over 3,000 Tiriki locals.