Today, any mention of ‘ Syokimau’ brings back memories of gigantic caterpillars pulling down multi-million shilling investments and tearing apart people’s dreams and hopes of ever owning a home.
Syokimau, the venue of the most deliberate demolitions of multi-million shilling homes, has become a curse word and password for poverty for hundreds of victims.
Syokimau, which is located next to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, has been abandoned like a desecrated Ithembo (shrine) whose trees have been felled.
It is as silent as a disused graveyard, signifying the death of people’s dreams that have left them wallowing in despair and nasty memories.
Kamba medicine woman
Long before Kenya as a country came into existence and any of her land had been surveyed and registered as titled property, the bearer of the name ruled supreme.
Although facts, fiction and myths have intermixed to create a legend, there is universal agreement that the name refers to an ancient Kamba medicine woman who lived in the 1800s.
There are conflicting narratives explaining who Syokimau really was, and at times her name is mentioned in the same breath with that of Masaku, the legendary seer after who Machakos town is named.
Barasa’s research has taken him to Iveti Hills, 8.4km from Machakos town where he traced some of the prophet’s descendants.
Iveti Hills, derived from the word Iveti, meaning women in Kamba was appropriately named so during the fierce intercommunity battles between the Akamba and the Maasai.
During those days, the area around Machakos was the battlefield between the pastoral Maasai whose weapon of choice was the spear while the Akamba were the master archers whose arrows never missed.