If a golf ball is to be positioned uphill the obvious result would be the ball rolling downhill effortlessly. This could be true, only that a hill located in one of Kenya’s predominantly semi-arid provinces is defying logic.
In recent times, a 150 km stretch on the Machakos-Kangundo road meandering Kyamwilu hills in Machakos county, eastern Kenya, continues to be thronged by young men eager to demonstrate a bewildering phenomenon to curious Kenyans.
“This site has been commanding a large audience and as a result, many young men are being drawn here to reverse malaise occasioned by the unrelenting negative effects of COVID-19. There are well over 15 men who work here illustrating the unusual occurrence,” said Caleb Kioko, one of the men.
In the said site, a car set on free gear downhill surprisingly drifts uphill, water poured downhill trickles the opposite direction while a ball at the foot of the hill rolls upward unaided.
This mysterious section of the hill has become important to young men distressed by the economic effects of the pandemic. Many now fully depend on the inquisitiveness of local tourists to earn a living.
According to ingenious residents, the cultural explanation is that two brothers who lived on extreme ends of the hill happened to marry the same woman, Mwende. Mwende begot a son whose paternal identity caused incessant fights.
Due to increased squabbles between her husbands, Mwende relocated together with his son.
Later, when both brothers died, Kyalo and Mwilu. It is believed that their spirits continue to fight with Mwilu who resided uphill assumed to be the most powerful, hence pulling everything towards him.
The names of the brothers, Kyalo and Mwilu were blended to produce Kyamwilu which is the sites’ present name.
Academic researchers posit different explanations; some believe it is an optical illusion caused by the surrounding landscapes. This explanation has been justified by a similar phenomenon in Ayrshire, Scotland.
Others have propagated that a mineral deposited deep underneath the earth could be the cause of this strange happening.
Generally, there has not been a conclusive explanation for these hills commonly referred to as magnetic hills.
Having worked at the site for nearly four months, Kioko’s earnings are now complimenting his father’s proceeds consequently distancing the family from the grip of destitution.
“I was affected by a restructuring exercise in the city, so I moved back home, armed with the knowledge passed down by my forefathers, I headed to the Kyamwilu site to try my luck. I make between 200-500 shillings (about 1.82- 4.5 U.S. dollars) a day,” said Kioko, adding that his pay is chiefly dictated by the generosity of the visitors. Some prefer performing the demonstration on their own while others allow them to carry them out, nevertheless, the majority of sightseers tip them.
The vibrancy of their business has led to the birth of a rotational saving scheme where they channel their daily proceeds.
The tourism industry has been on a rebound since International travel was restored in August last year.
Last week in a move to resuscitate the tourism industry, a British supermodel, Naomi Campbell inked a deal with the country to market it as an ideal tourism destination center.
“We welcome the exciting news that Naomi Campbell will advocate for tourism and travel internationally for the magical Kenya brand,” said Najib Balala, cabinet secretary of tourism and wildlife.
Peter Kilungu, one of the men who regularly earn a living at Kyamwilu, is now appealing to the county government to recognize the spot as a tourist destination site and furnish the area with necessary infrastructure such as washrooms.