Lake Simbi Nyaima in Karachuonyo, near Kendu Bay Town in Homa bay County is famed for its cultural symbolism as well as a tourist attraction site.
Geologists believe Simbi Nyaima Lake which is surrounded by very little green vegetation was formed as a result of earthquakes accompanied by volcanic eruptions creating a crater lake about six centuries ago.
However, locals tell a completely different story regarding the lake’s origin. A frail haggard looking 88 year old Otondo Owino says the Crater Lake formed as a result of the villagers’ greed and arrogance. He says according to legendary tale handed down over the generations, there once lived a community on the site.
Owino says the community, however, disappeared in a violent storm when residents declined to shelter and feed an old woman who sought refuge there, creating a large depression that formed Lake Simbi Nyaima which means in dholuo “village that sank”.
He says the local community believes the lake has no limit in depth while its’ waters are believed to be medicinal. “We have been cured of myriad diseases by bathing and drinking the lakes water”, Owino says adding that it is also a source of crude salt fed to livestock.
One can smell the pungent breeze from the lake which is a seasonal home of migrating flamingoes from more than 40 kilometres away. Legio Maria sect members also flock the lake for body and spiritual nourishing.
Wilson Okumu an environmental conservationist says the flamingoes arrive from lakes in the Rift Valley region, such as Nakuru, Baringo, Natron and Elementaita. The birds come to the lake every year.
“What is striking is how the flamingos locate the lake, owing to the great distance between it and the other lakes inhabited by flamingoes”, Okumu says.
He notes that there are other interesting places near Lake Simbi Nyaima, including the Kanjera Archeological site and Kendu Bay’s Old Town, where Arabs settled as early as 1920s challenging the County government and the local community to take a proactive role in conserving the lake and marketing it as a top notch tourist destination.
“The strategy which should be adopted includes establishing and structuring frameworks for dialogue and on the other hand generating knowledge to promote the development of the lake”, he adds.
The conservationist says the development of Simbi will curb unemployment within the local communities especially the young youths.
“The involvement of local community is the key to the conservation and marketing of Simbi. Consultation within the community, government and other stakeholders will ensure that priority target areas are addressed. This is because the workforce for developing the lake must be sourced from beneficiary communities,” Okumu noted.
He says Simbi, alongside Ruma National Park, would generate a lot of income if only strategies are put in place by both the local and national leaders.
Currently no fee is charged to gain entry into the site which explains why it is favorite destination for both domestic and foreign tourists.
By Davis Langat