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Thursday, 8 August 2019

Kipsegon cave, where lightning once resided

 Kipsegon Springs,
By VITALIS KIMUTAI
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The historical Kipsegon hot springs in Bomet County is a community-owned and jealously-protected ecosystem.

It’s home to a variety of birds, snakes, frogs, turtles and fish species, which have harmoniously lived with residents for eons.

The ecosystem with both hot and cold springs, is dotted with various species of indigenous trees and plants, most of them of medicinal value. Over the years, it has attracted researchers and locals, making it a tourist attraction.

“A number of huge black mambas are usually spotted hanging on trees especially in the midmorning and late evening as they bask in the sun, but no incident has been reported of residents being attacked by the reptiles,” Mr John Ngeno, a resident, says.

Women and children wade through the reptile-infested canopy of trees to draw clean fresh water from the hot springs at the centre of the ecosystem, located in Nyangores Ward, Chepalungu Constituency.

For generations, there have been no reported cases of waterborne diseases, including typhoid and cholera, as the water is fresh and clean and residents believe it has medicinal value.


A cave where residents claim lightning — ilet — lived before migrating to an unknown destination in 1960s is still intact. Myth has it that lightning was a cockerel-like living creature, and would turn green and shiny when one got close to it.

“It was a supernatural and a just surveyor, settling land disputes. It would demarcate land that was in dispute. During the rainy reason, it would split trees, clearly showing where the disputed boundary should be, bringing to an end wrangles among the parties,” Mr Moses Ruto, a resident, says.

Four rivers — Kerundut, Kimuta, Kakawet and Ainab Werik — converge at the tail end of the ecosystem, which empties its waters into Nyangores River — a tributary of the Mara River, which also drains its waters into Lake Victoria.

“The county government of Bomet is engaged in talks with the local community to have the ecosystem further developed, more indigenous trees planted, caged wild animals introduced, and a museum developed,” says Mr Erick Ngetich, the County Chief Officer in charge of Trade and Tourism.

The 19.5-acre ecosystem has a cattle dip, which was opened by then Vice-President Daniel Moi in 1967 and is still used by the area residents.

There have been at least four known tragic cases involving wild animals, cattle and human beings in the ecosystem with  myth having it they were sacrificed by supernatural beings that reside in and protect the ecosystem.

In 1910, an elephant was swallowed by the hot spring whose depth is unknown, with a similar incident befalling six girls who had undergone circumcision (chemerinik) in 1930.

Four bullocks tied to two yokes and a wagon they were pulling disappeared beneath it in 1945. The livestock belonged to Mzee Silimani Kuku a large-scale livestock farmer in the area at the time.

In 1983, an elephant that was rescued as it almost sunk into the spring killed a teacher, Mr Jacob Tirop, who tried to spear to death the wild animal, which was later killed and skinned by the locals. Still, an old man Kiprotek Kering was buried in 1958 as a salt-lick cave collapsed in the ecosystem.

No one is allowed to cut any tree and women cannot fetch firewood or split a fallen tree in the ecosystem.

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