One wonders if the tears of the famous Crying Stone of Ilesi are crocodile tears. If they are genuine, why hasn’t anybody bothered to find out why the stone is crying? It’s disturbing that every day children are born in Kakamega, go to school and eventually join the family business (Musalia and Sons Boda-Boda Enterprise), and go on to get married without stopping to ask, “Wait, why is our famous stone crying? Is it something our ancestors did?” My suspicion is the stone cries because something heinous was done to a chicken back in the days, and this chicken was reincarnated as a stone. Since being a stone is not enough, it decided to have a head resembling that of a human and finished the ensemble with tears (which means this chicken was a chic), hoping to grab attention and force the people to avenge her death, but the people of Kakamega would rather cheer at bulls fighting while high on weed than avenge a chicken.
So, the Crying stone of Ilesi continues to cry without anyone bothering to find out why. As a result, it has become a legend. If you ask anyone from Kakamega why you should tour their county they will mention the Crying Stone. They will want you to visit, stand at its feet and marvel at its beauty, which is what I should have done when I first set foot in Kakamega for studies many years ago, but I took my time because I am a patient man.
One day, a few weeks to the end of my studies, I told my friends that I had never seen the crying stone. They were all shocked. Why? How dare I? Did I not love my country? What kind of a Luhya was I not to be proud of such a heritage? Better still, what kind of a patriot was I? They were being dramatic, but they had a point. One Sunday, a few of us decided to visit this legendary site. We had a few girls with us, so we had to first dash to Tuskys for some soft drinks and snacks. We then boarded a matatu to a place called Khayega and from there we started the trek to the Crying Stone of Ilesi.
We crossed a small river, greeted a few women who stopped to look at us and wave, proud that in their midst was a mystery crying stone we were coming to see. As we passed a certain boma where a few men lazed about in their oversized shirts and akalas, one of the guys in our entourage asked us not to look at them. Eye contact would attract trouble, he said. But that guy was a Kalenjin, whereas I am a Luhya. Other than Ugali and chickens, greetings are the only reason we tolerate this earth. We have sustained radio programs in this country for ages, kept radio hosts in their jobs even during harsh economic times because of greetings, so I wasn’t going to ignore them. I looked at the guys and greeted them. They waved back, and then, as if he had just remembered something, one of them charged to us and demanded we sort him out before we progress.
“You know, people pay to enter parks, so you must understand why you guys must part with something small to view our crying stone.”
He was being ridiculous, of course, and we told him as much. The crying stone sits on a small hill surrounded by nothing but thickets and silence. It sits lonely over there and there was no sign that anyone was sweating to make it happy, so why exactly were we paying? He offered a brief history of the stone for some small change. We parted with 100 bob, and he told us the stone had been standing there for ages, crying, without anyone knowing how. He said nothing we did not already know, but we thanked him anyway.
The Crying Stone is quite a sight. It towers above you like a giant. On that day we struggled to see the tears, but we were wowed all the same. We stood on its feet and marvelled at its beauty while at the same time confused about how neglected it was. Kakamega does not boast of many tourist attraction-sites, yet the site where the crying stone stands is neglected. I don’t know what can be done, but I am sure if the county pays a few experts, they might be able to give that site a facelift and perhaps cash from it.
In the meantime, the stone stands, crying, like a one-man army, depending on nothing but it’s mystery and uniqueness to keep its name alive. Even though reports suggest the tears may be drying up, but if you ever find yourself in Kakamega, pay it a visit. It might whisper on your ear why it’s crying. Or it might not. But still.