Mbita – Takawiri – Mfangano – Mbita
After breakfast, with your picnic lunch, enjoy a ride on traditional boat with horse power engine or ferry or the water bus past the two smallest Islands called Mbasa Namiyolo to reach the beautiful Island of Takawiri with very white sands and get to know how they survive and live with the traditional fishing style. This Islands of Lake Victoria are settled by Abasuba tribes who are Bantu speakers and believed to have come from Uganda more than 200yrs ago. We ride further to Mfangano Island where we have the geometric rock paintings at Mawanga cave and Kwitone in the Island. It is believed that the rock art pre-dates the migration of both Nilotes and Bantus and is thought to be the work of ancestral Twa, a forager-hunter people who may have been originary related to the pygmies of Eastern Congo.
Meanwhile the Abasuba long ago embraced the Art as part of their own ancient heritage. The paintings are thought to have been made between 1000 and 4000yrs ago and may have been used for rain making purposes. It is known for instance those similar paintings in Eastern Uganda only 200kms North of Suba district were used for this purpose. Rock engraving site in the area include “cupule” sites, where cup-shaped depressions have been ground into the rock surface, as well as a rock gong. Although cupule’s often resembles a Bao game, their original use is likely to have been for ritual purposes, such as initiation. Cupules are found all over the world and are thought to be amongst the oldest form of rock art probably predating paintings such as those Mawanga and Kwitone by thousands of years. Rock gongs are normally free- standing boulders balanced on the living rock which have a natural resonance, and often bear a number of cupules. When the boulders are struck with a stone, they emit a ringing tone like a bitten gong. Rhythmic striking produces a series of tones that carry great distance. A number of rock gongs are found in the Lake Victoria basin and in the Moru Koppies in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park as well as in the Mt. Kenya region. Ones we reach the shore of Mfangano, we will have 5 minutes walk from the boat and then reach Mawanga. Although they were painted as part of a vanished mythology, the cave, the paintings and the surrounding area retain powers in the traditions of the Abasuba. The Wasamo clan, who live around the cave, are the rain makers of the Abasuba, and the elders agree that the paintings have been used for rain making ceremonies, with the red paintings representing the moon and the white ones representing the sun. On the upland part of Mfangano Island is the Kwitone rock shelter which we can reach if time allows, the art here is similar to that of mawanga, although retaining more of its color and vibrancy. The elders of the Wagimbe clan explain that if you wanted to come to Kwitone to talk to the ancestors, you were not allowed to call the site by its name or tell anyone that you are coming; you were also supposed to abstain from sex. If you follow the instructions, then when you arrive at the site, you may be able to see the paintings of hens, old men and women drinking alcohol. If you did not follow the instructions, you might see nothing not even the smallest paintings. The Wagimbe also used the rock to ask the ancestors and even the time of the clan battles e.g. between Wagimbe and the Wasaki (approximately 200yrs ago), the Wagimbe had taken refuge in the cave. The women then dressed up as men and standing in the mouth of the cave scared the attackers into thinking that they were double the number of warriors as was actually the case. Up to now, people still visit the cave to ask the ancestors and success in their various endeavors. After getting to learn the wonders of the two rocks, we ride back to Mbita, picnic lunch enroute, after relaxing you can enjoy optional hike to Gembe Hills to have a view of the beautiful isles in Lake Victoria before dinner and overnight at the campsite. Note: You can donate towards the upkeep of Abasuba community peace Museum in Mbita to continue with their good work of maintaining the rock arts.