I have written a lot about Nanyuki town and the reason for this bias is because this happens to be my home town, the place I spent my childhood in and perhaps the place I stayed the longest in my life – so I had a chance to internalize the environment and take in her treasures back then and in recent years as I have travelled that road and into my childhood town, I cannot help but notice the metamorphosis this once little town, where everyone almost knew each other by name, has undergone in the last 2 decades.
And so, as fate would have it, I was back there a few days ago and as I drove along the Nanyuki-Nyeri road, I remembered, with amusement, of a story I had read once about how a certain memsahib (white lady), one day coming from her usual shopping, came across a commotion caused by a female donkey (which was apparently in heat) and 2 male donkeys that were desperately trying to mount her.
It is said the memsahib collapsed at this site (whether it was out of shock or excitement, no one knows). The embarrassment this caused her led to the enactment of the famous 1949 by-law banning donkeys from the streets of Nanyuki town. This by-law is in effect to-date I am told. You can read the full story here.
I was brought back to reality by the advancing Equator point sign because I knew the popular Silverbeck Hotel that was a darling of many back in the 80s, would be quite close by and I had been rearing to catch a glimpse of it and see what the development wave sweeping this railway town, had done to it. I was shocked. The once glamorous weekend spot was no more! In its place now stood a derelict ghost structure.
In place of those beautiful little cottages we used to admire when we were kids, now a bushy mess of overgrown weeds stared back at me – I could not even make out where the entrance was! My goodness what many Sundays did I spend here back in the days!
It was the popular hangout for family after attending church service. Now to think that it was gone was beyond me! Whatever became of it? I would be very keen to hear from anyone who knows what happened. I later learn that Mountex, a textile industry located a few paces from Thingithu Primary School, on your way to the Laikipia Airbase, suffered the same fate.
The next day was Sunday and I found myself on the same Nanyuki-Nyeri road and very near where Silverbeck stood – only this time I took a detour towards the road that leads to the world-famous Mount Kenya Safari Club. I was not on my way to the club (although I wish I were) but instead I was headed to Our Lady of Mount Kenya House monastery for Sunday service. The monastery, which I understand was dedicated to Mary the mother of Jesus, was originally a colonial farm house donated to the Benedictine Missionaries as a gift by the owner in 1979.
A very creative Ugandan priest, Fr. Raymund Ssentongo, transformed it into the famously known ‘Bible Village’, a nature trail of sorts that attracts visitors and worshippers from all corners of Kenya and abroad.
Fr. Ssentongo erected multiple ‘African bible huts’ in a biblical theme all over the property. Pilgrims who come here can move from one hut to another in a similar fashion to the Catholic ‘Way of the Cross’ and meditate on one biblical theme after the other as they walk through the narrow winding trails that take you ever deeper into the forest and into the word of God.
Besides the huts, you will come across occasional tablets of stones on the ground with bible verses written on them. In some areas, columns of built-up pillars with bible verse inscriptions on them can also be spotted within the wooded trail. It is just an amazing place to unwind and meditate.
As I left the place, I promised myself I would be back but I could not quite figure out why they did not want anyone to take pictures or videos of the bible village. I remember thinking to myself, “what a waste. Photos speak a million words!” Anyway, this visit to the Benedictine monastery marked the end of my trip to Nanyuki and as I went back I knew I just had to write this story – and so I have.
I have shared the monastery’s contacts below for anyone who may wish to pay the place a visit.
PO Box 163
t: 0176 32681
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