Religious, political leaders tussle over religious image

People throng Kaila village in Sema, Kisumu County, after word went round that a rock with the image of Virgin Mary had been spotted

A hazy spiritual image of the Virgin Mary sitting on the ground with her feet folded in front, carrying a baby in her palm and another baby seated on her right, leaning on her folded legs has been ‘stolen’.

The “supernaturally cast” image on Kidi Achiel rock in Seme constituency of Kisumu last Monday was claimed by a legion of Legio Maria prayer warriors who claimed rights to its interpretation only to be outsmarted by political foxes.

“It appeared on Kidi Achiel after our nightlong prayer vigil at the rock’s foot we alone can tell how and why it came,” said a Legio Maria adherent.

Kayilla villagers who arrived at the site later on have nonetheless ignored the sect’s word concerning the image and now connect it to the current electioneering developments claiming it symbolises a triumphant win for Nasa in the forthcoming August polls. They have in fact roped in the recent fall of a Mugumo tree in central Kenya to further advance this line of argument.

“The fall of the Mugumo tree in Nyeri signified end of an era for the Mount Kenya leadership, and Mary’s appearance in Seme rock marks the delivery of the country’s leadership to the people’s president Raila Odinga who is in the hands of Mary and Kalonzo who is at the feet of Mary,” said a villager Caleb Ochieng.

Another interpretation from Ouma K’Obillo who has fetched firewood and grazed his grandfather’s cattle around the rock for years went: “This is the true Mary of the Bible who has been sent to deliver a victory message to Nasa’s Presidential candidate. And we are glad that the message has been delivered right on our soil.”

Legio’s spiritual patent

The religious Legio Maria will not let the discovery go just like that. They have so far warned that the ‘divine broadcast’ on the stone was a powerful message from the creator to his people to repent and, should not be corrupted.

“It should not be interpreted in a political fashion. The men of cloth have the required interpretation,” warned one who appeared to be a senior member of the sect.

Another prophet from the sect whose church is nearest to the rock took advantage of the crowd gathered to see Virgin Mary to give the message that the world was full of sins.

“The divine has come down in the image of a rock to warn people, and offer forgiveness for those wallowing in sins. Everybody is welcome to speak to Mary on all the issues facing them, as well as seek forgiveness,” he said, adding that should people ignore the call, then the creator may get annoyed and end the world.

Some onlookers have thronged the area, not only to have a glance at the unique stone, but also get entertained from the antics displayed by the sect members during their prayers.

Since the discovery, the sect members have been praying and fasting around the rock seeking audience with the creator on various issues bedevilling humanity.

Elders to have last say

The Luo Council of Elders is, however, planning a ritual to help them understand the phenomenon, just in case there is a message for the community – political or otherwise.

The council chair Mzee Opiyo Otondi said he would pick a section of his team to monitor the site and come up with a viable interpretation.

“I received a lot of calls from people inquiring what the Virgin Mary image could mean. I am also averse to diverse interpretations people are putting forward, but we do not want to speculate as elders,” said Otondi. He hinted there could be big things in offing.

“Such a phenomenon cannot just happen in vain. It must have a deep message beneath which we have to look at keenly and give direction so that our people are not misled,” he said.

Lastly, the owner of the land where the stone with the controversial image lays Patricia Geng’o, is not only torn by the many translations surrounding the rock but also on the prospects of the county of Kisumu acquiring her land as a tourist site.