04-01-2022 di redazione
They say that where there are red rocks there is the smell of iron and the stench of sulphur.
And where it smells like sulphur, there is Shetani, the devil.
Mungu put the iron there, to imprison it underground.
Above the hard crust teems a world of thirsty souls for whom the rocks that overhang the great village are the certainty of being home, but also the awareness of having been born in a place that the eternal struggle between good and evil has made arid and hopeless.
We are in Mutomo, under the imposing rocks that create solitary massifs as far as the eye can see, where the beauty is so harsh and impervious that it is difficult to call it by its name.
Each of these giants also has a name, as well as a story, a legend.
A name of a mythological hero or a damned demon.
There is the African twin of Polyphemus, trapped by iron and cooled lava.
There is the Peak of the Madmen, which, like another sacred mountain in Kitui, transformed pilgrims into what they unconsciously wanted to be and, it is said, changed their sex.
We leave the new Chinese tarmac road linking Kibwezi to Kitui, amidst the last scrubland of Tsavo North and the first splendid Jacaranda trees of the middle valley. We climb up to the huge thousand-year-old boulders that dominate the entire landscape. There is an office of the Kenya Wildlife Service, but amidst the skulls of buffaloes and baboons among the dry branches of an acacia tree perched among the rocks, no sign of life in uniform or even in plain clothes.
There should also be a botanical reserve here, but it is not easy to find it open.
We climb further up and the view is both majestic and desolate at the same time: a desert of stones and brambles stretching for kilometres, in a kingdom where not even the Devil wanted to set foot.
Down here, the desperate people of the most remote village of Mutomo long ago saw patches of wetness among the hardest-to-reach rocks, where every now and then a hyena or other animal climbs up to atone for being driven away by the pack.
People with heads tougher than iron and zinc, and as mad as those beasts they started breaking, beating, digging.
The authorities didn't move a finger, but at least they didn't put any vetoes in place, so finally an underground stream appeared and its opening, which cost at least a hundred willing people effort and pain under the scorching sun, created a saving lake of sulphurous but clean water.
Mutomo is not safe, that water is not enough, but at least mothers do not have to cook by filtering rainwater and children do not have to stop and drink water from puddles. Cholera killed many here in 2007 and has not been seen since.
In the village there is very little farming and anorexic cows graze. They pray in a large Pentecostal hut, and there are even people who know where to get a couple of beers and have the money to pay for them. Even if four people get on a motorbike to share the expenses, and the children go to school in uniform and barefoot, so as not to wear out their shoes, which they only put on at the entrance gate.
In Mutomo, they are now thinking of mines, because the pitted Kenya of other regions teaches them that where there are known metals, there are also some new precious resources, those useful for the most modern technologies, such as gallium and selenium, and who knows, maybe they will not find the indispensable coltan and cobalt that have put Congo to fire and sword.
At this point, let us hope not.
Let's hope that Mungu and Shetani will for once stop fighting here, among the rocks of the blameless.
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