Vigango Shrine of Kaya Kauma Forest | Location: Kilifi
Every community has a story, and at the heart of this story is something that connects all members of the tribe past and present. For the Mijikenda, the Sacred Kaya Forests provide this connection. Kaya is the Mijikenda word for village. The Kaya Forests are 10 separate forests covering an area of about 200km that have grown over the remains of fortified villages, built to protect the community during times of war that have been abandoned since the start of the 20th century. The villages were designed to protect the community from marauders, with the people living in a central clearing surrounded by forest cover. Important cultural artifacts were buried in a secret spot in the clearing to repel invaders. The Mijikenda consider the Forests as the home of their ancestors and a focal point of their culture and identity. A council of Elders looks after the forests on behalf of the community. The Forests are considered sacred ground. No children are allowed and even adults must dress appropriately, in a kanga, to access the site and visitors cannot set foot on these sacred grounds with shoes on or have any artificial smells on them. The community believes the spirits of their ancestors are alive and visitors come with sacrifices to curry their favour. The site is the community’s most sacred location. This is where the community’s prayers are offered by the Mulombi, primarily for rain before planting season and in thanksgiving after harvest. Prayers are also offered during times of war and disease. (During Covid 19-the Mulombi offered prayers.) When praying, the community comes to the site with a chicken and a goat to offer to the ancestors. The chicken is not slaughtered but thrown against a rock and thrown into the River Nzovuni that flows from the forests all the way to the sea. If the chicken is carried away the prayers are considered successful, if it does not the prayers are deemed unsuccessful.