By Mugendi Kagichu
Tourism and nature enthusiasts traveling to Embu mainly love visiting Camp Ndunda, Nthenge-Njeru twin falls, Mwea game reserve, and the picturesque Karue hill that gives a glimpse of the aerial view of Embu County and a long-shot view of Nyambene hills in Meru.
However, few visitors within and outside Embu have heard of ‘Munyu wa Ngerwe’ –a spring of underground liquid that tastes like a soda.
Munyu wa Ngerwe, according to locals and frequent visitors is a remedy to several human and livestock ailments.
Interestingly, the water-like soda oozing from underground circumvents along a huge Mugumo tree to emit through a basin-like structure shielded by a permanent stone on the top.
“You see, it is shielded on top and around leaving a small area in the front from where visitors access the liquid. The liquid is not rained on,” says Juliana Mutitu, a 75-year-old.
Mutitu reveals that formerly, sacrifices were conducted from the area denoting it as a holy place.
She said some years back, the government tapped the liquid and constructed a reservoir a few meters away from the source but believe it or not, ‘the liquid didn’t flow to the reservoir.’
“It is God-manned. The government tried to direct it to a place where it can be easily fetched but were unable,” said Eunice Murugi, a resident of Kibugu location, in Manyatta constituency where the spring is found.
Locals say the spring’s glory lives to date. “The liquid is medicine itself. Those who regularly take it do not contract infections like common cold, skin conditions, and flu locally referred to as Kivuti,” she reveals.
Mutitu adds that the liquid is also used to tenderize and flavor food like githeri and drinks such as porridge. However, too much of it gives food a bitter alkaline taste.
Alex Njeru, another resident and consumer of Munyu wa Ngerwe says the liquid helps both human beings and animals to gain an appetite.
“If your cows or your own self lose appetite, you can gain it through consumption of this liquid. It also speeds up birth to cows,” Njeru reveals adding that people have been coming from far to fetch the commodity.
He notes that the water also helps to relieve stomach problems such as indigestion.
This soda well is said to have existed for centuries with some saying it is over 100 years.
Mutitu recalls that the area was used as a place of prayer by the elders. “They would pray for things like rainfall, harvests, and calamities and would even slaughter sheep as a sacrifice.”
Those who spoke remain amused by the fact that water levels of the ‘miraculous’ soda-like liquid remain the same even during immense dry seasons.
Scientifically, the reason attributed to such tastes is that sometimes, water that is naturally alkaline passes over rocks, like springs and picks up minerals that increase its alkaline level.
Sometimes the water goes through a chemical process called electrolysis, which uses a product called an ionizer to raise the pH of regular water.