An artist's depiction of Mepoho

Mepoho: The Mijikenda prophetess who foresaw the coming of Europeans and Asians

Prophetess Mepoho is regarded as one of the most respected and honoured prophetess in African history. Not only did she foresee the coming of the pale ones (Europeans) and their transport vehicles, her appearance and disappearance were so mysterious that it did send a chill in the Mijikenda community.

She had no biological parents, there were no footprints to show that someone had dropped the baby, found in the 13th century.

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The story of Prophetess Mepoho

A great rain storm accompanied by thunder and lightning had raged the Mijikenda community, the storm went on heavily overnight and many natives would never dare to come out lest they be snatched away by the rain god.

When morning came after the mysterious storm, the natives went on to check on each other to see if anyone was missing or left out due to the storm, and no one was found missing.

As it was customary amongst the Mijikenda women, they would usually make their way to the river to fetch water for the day’s activities.

On their way to fetch water, a group of these women heard a distant baby’s cry while approaching the river. Upon approaching the cries, they found a baby girl wrapped within a Musimbiji (a blue clothing), to the Mijikenda the blue clothing is a symbol of power divination and prophecy.

The Mijikenda diviners or prophets would wear blue clothing where as female diviners would wear Hando ra Musimbiji (blue dressing).

Quite as strange as it was, a baby found after a ground tearing rain storm. The women asked those living close by the river if they knew of anyone who might have been within the window of delivery, but they found none.

One of the women decided to adopt her and raise her as her own, and she named her Mepoho. The young Mepoho grew up as a normal girl and followed the traditions of her people until her maturity and chose to become a diviner.

Prophetess Mepoho illustration

As a diviner she participated in ngoma za pepo (spiritual dance), and she would end up being possessed by spirits and see into the days ahead. Through these insights she could predict droughts, famine and heavy rains that would result into floods. She would also use these foresights to protect her people.

One day she demanded that the spiritual dance be performed and that she had a very important message to tell the community. While she sat on her three-legged traditional chair, she got possessed and she witnessed something terrifying that she had never seen before.

In this vision she saw of the future where people with pale skin and hair like dried sisal would come into their land. These people would come with strange vessels that float on water, travel on air and land, this will symbolise the end of the Mijikenda culture and traditions.

“There will come people with pale skin with hair like sisal fibres. When these people come, you will also witness vessels in the sky, on land and on water. You will see young girls giving birth to young babies. And they (pale people) would also take tobacco. When these things come to pass, your culture will be destroyed and your land be taken away from you.”

Being trouble with this vision, she said she didn’t want to witness the eradication of the Mijikenda culture, while sitting on her three-legged stool, the drummers begun drumming and dancing while she began sinking with her stool into the soil. This went on for seven days, until her head was the only member of her body that was left out, which later became an anthill. A word was spread all over the Mijikenda communities to go and see the wonders (hence to this day the place of her disappearance is called ‘Kaloleni’ meaning go and see) in Kilifi.

Photo and illustration credit: Jei Mundati/Netizen Radar

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