Taveta Mystic: Creator of Lake Chala (Taveta community) (2020) by Shujaa StoriesNational Museums of Kenya
The Mythical Creation of Lake Chala of Taveta
A long time ago, in the ancient land of Taveta, on the border of Kenya and Tanzania, there lived two clans. The story goes that one day a mysterious woman appeared and asked for a place to sleep. But the first clan she approached were in the middle of celebrating a bumper harvest and were having their annual sorghum beer drinking festival. So, the clan said to her “go away, you dirty miserable woman”.
Sad and disappointed by this treatment, the woman went to the village of the Mnene clan and made the same request. The Mnene clan welcomed her with delicious food, and gave her a warm place to sleep.
The following day, the mysterious woman woke up happy but warned the Mnene clan about the curse and calamity she was going to bring upon the clan who had chased her away. She told them about a similar incident that happened at a place called Simbi Nyaima where a lady called Anyango cursed the villagers for mistreating her.
Later, Simbi village sank after a deluge of rain and formed what is now called Lake Simbi Nyaima in Kendu Bay.
The mysterious woman then disappeared. That night, the ground in Taveta started to shake, and fear gripped the villagers as they did not understand what was going on. The tremors got stronger and stronger, houses collapsed, animals began to run helter-skelter, dogs howled with fear.
Suddenly there was a loud bang! A huge plume of black smoke shot up from the ground and covered the sky! The ground began to sink.
The villagers cried out for help but to no avail. The ground sunk and became an enormous crater. Water welled up and the villagers disappeared. The curse of the mysterious woman was fulfilled. And this is the legend of how Lake Chala came into being.
Legend has it that at night, the villagers who sunk into the lake can be heard beating drums and crying out to be rescued! It is also believed that the whirlpools that form on Lake Chala during the day are the unsettled spirits of the villagers who sunk into the lake. And, their descendants are warned never to swim in the lake. Whenever they do they drown!
Lake Chala's legacy lives on
Lake Chala in Taveta is a deep four-square kilometre crater lake straddling the border of Kenya and Tanzania. This beautiful Crater Lake is located in North Taveta. It is a caldera lake, therefore it is very deep, accounting for its beautiful turquoise blue-green appearance.
A passer-by may not know that it exists because it’s completely hidden from view, making it all the more mysterious and exciting to visit. The lake is fed by ground-water from Mt. Kilimanjaro.
The lake has a unique ecosystem with some endemic species like Lake Chala tilapia, a critically endangered species, found only in this lake. Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus Niloticus), were introduced in the lake in the early 1900’s.
Research field work was undertaken in Samburu and Marsabit (for Gabbra, Samburu, Rendille, Saakuye, Dasanach, Elmolo, Waayu a.k.a Waata, and Burji superheroes/heroines), Embu and Tharaka (for Aembu, Tharaka, Ameru and Mbeere superheroes/heroines), Mombasa ( for Boni, Swahili, Pokomo, Segeju and Bajuni superheroes/heroines)and Taita-Taveta/Voi (for Taveta superheroes/heroines) capturing all information about the heroes from the 40 selected ethnic groups/communities by Museum’s research team. The illustrations were done using digital media by Shujaa Stories Limited.
National Museums of Kenya - Contributors
Mzalendo Kibunjia (PhD) - Director General
Purity Kiura (PhD) - Director Antiquities, Sites & Monuments
Julias Juma Ogega - Senior Curator/Research Scientist
Njuguna Gichere - Research Scientist
Lydia Gatundu - Art of Curator
Emmanuel Kariuki - Exhibit Designer
Philemon Nyamanga - Curator/Research Scientist
Mercy Gakii - Curator/Research Scientist
Imelda Muoti - Curator/Archivist
Innocent Nyaga - Marketing Officer
Suzanne Wanjaria - Exhibits Designer
Ray Balongo Khaemba - Senior Collection Manager
Raphael Igombo - Education Officer
Eddy Ochieng – Photographer/Videographer
Shujaa Stories Ltd
Tatu Creatives Ltd
Shujaa Stories Ltd
Shujaa Stories Ltd – Contributors
Masidza Sande Galavu - Illustrator
Jeff Muchina- Editing
Martha Shavuya Galavu - Illustrator
Brian Kiraga – Research and Writing
Daisy Okoti - Editing
Shani Mutarura - Editing
Juelz Laval – Photography/Videographer
Linda Tambo - Photography
Nature Kenya- The East Africa Natural History Society (EANHS)