Syokimau is not just an affluent quiet neighborhood, it is also a place of rich cultural & historical significance that inspires intriguing memories of the origin of the name. Situated next to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the neighborhood is quiet like a disused graveyard that has been abandoned by its natives.
As the story goes, the name Syokimau refers to a traditional Kamba Medicine Woman who was also a witch and a prophetess. Although there are conflicting narratives explaining who Syokimau really was it is common knowledge that the name refers to an ancient Kamba medicine woman who lived in the 1800s.
Syokimau dedicated her life to the Kamba warriors as she could predict an attack by the Maasai long before they came, giving her backyard community ample time to get ready for defense. Syokimau would also pray and offer sacrifices on behalf of the Akamba warriors whenever they were about to go to war with their neighbors. As result, Akamba would take the war to the enemies and stage attacks to as far as Magadi. Such raids were used as a way of acquiring cattle that at the time were a form of currency and symbol of wealth. She is also remembered for correctly predicting of the coming of the colonialists and the establishment of the railway, saying she had foreseen and forewarned her people about the coming of the white man.
The untold story about her shrine & the mystery of her death is the unique part of Syokimau’s tale. Her dwelling place commonly known as Ithembo the shrine was where anyone who came to offer sacrifices were required to walk backward with your right leg stepping right where your left had already stepped. Failure to remember the order in which you stepped when getting out of the shrine would result in death.
The tale goes on to explain that Syokimau is believed to have died twice. After she died for the first time, she was thrown into the bush as it was the tradition of the ancient Akamba community. Later in the evening, the villagers saw crows surrounding the place where she had been left which triggered curiosity and when they decide to check, they found her sitting down. Her second death had a wish tied to it that she’d be buried in between stones which later became a mystery to reckon with. It’s tried and proven that if you take a gallon of water and shed around the place, water would climb up the place instead of streaming down as it is the norm.
Today, Syokimau is remembered & credited for the prediction of the coming of the colonialists and the railway, saying she had foreseen and forewarned her people about the coming of the white man. The locale in Athi River Sub-county is where the colonialists constructed a railway station still holds & respects the prophetess’s name. This also gave birth to the inauguration of Kenya’s first commuter train in Nov 2012 – The Syokimau Railway Station along Mombasa Road.