Amid the controversy around the Shakahola forest, there exists a correlation between the forest and the Giriama Uprising.
The Giriama Uprising was led by a heroine by the name of Mekatilili wa Menza. Shakahola was the main area where the rebellion was born, specifically the Chakama area. Mekatilili wa Menza was born in Shakahola forest
Mekatili wa Menza is a woman who went down in history as the first heroine to lead a year-long rebellion against the British government. She managed to urge the locals to oppose British rule when they introduced forced labour to the locals on their plantations in 1913. Mekatilili managed to mobilise people and lead them as they took their oaths to fight the British for the sake of their country.
Mekatilili was born in Sabaki River in the 1840s and her name lives on in history books. She also signifies the prophecy told by prophetess Mepoho about strange people coming. The prophetess mentions them coming in air-like sisal fibres with flying vessels that can move on both land and water.
Legend has it that she slapped a British soldier and managed to escape. She was later caught and arrested in Western, but her bravery at the time was inspiring. She died in 1925 and her statue was put up in Malindi as a symbol of Kenya’s independence.
Shakahola forest is the scene of the crime at the moment with over 240 bodies exhumed and found. This is the place where the controversial Pastor Paul Mckenzie duped people into fasting so that they can go to heaven. Bodies found were caused by starvation, strangulation or suffocation. These bodies are not only limited to older people but children’s bodies are being found as well.
“Shakahola is a name derived from ‘Shaka’ and ‘Hola’. ‘Shaka’ means sorrow while ‘Hola’ means healing. During the colonial era, Shakahola meant that we have been healed of our worries,” Nazi explained, the coordinator of the Mijikenda Kaya Elders Association.
He says that after the investigation has been completed, they will declare Shakahola a historical site and shrine. No one would be allowed to own the land. They will also put up a tower to signify where Mekatilili slapped the British soldier. She is celebrated by the Mijikenda people every August in a three-day event with one of the activities being peace walks with the locals and the leaders.
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