Mt. Mtelo: The sacred mountain where the Pokot pray

A long time ago, during times of war, drought and disease, the Pokot people used to pray to Mt. Mtelo and all their problems would be solved – this is how Mt. Mtelo became the sacred mountain of the Pokot people.

According to Julius Lonyang’atile, a resident of the Sekerr area, the Pokot people have been praying to Mt. Mtelo whenever problems or challenges arise since time immemorial; all with the belief that by doing so their prayers reach God faster.

“We as Pokot people, from Tiaty, from the North all believe in the prayers made at Mt. Mtelo. We believe that the mountain is of great help to us and it protects us and this has been since the times of our ancestors,” he said.

Regardless of where you pray from, as long as you face the mountain then you’re prayers are bound to be answered.

Pokot Council of Elders Chairperson John Muok detailed the importance of the mountain citing the provision of food and water for their livestock as one of the blessings received from it.

“It is our mountain and we use it during ceremonies and doing crucial things concerning our community. We use culture to take our grievances there and the solution is found. It is a mountain of blessings…any negativity that happens is rectified after prayers.” he said.

Pokot culture man William Lopetakou says that Mt. Mtelo is regarded as the mythical world where ancestral figures interact with the humans in the empirical world.

“The ancestral figures are not worshipped but are appeased for the purpose of maintaining social and cosmic harmony of that cosmos and obtaining specific benefits such as rain, good harvest, children, and good health among others,” he said.

“This place is so central that even many people visit there to consult mediums and finally talk to their ancestral figures face to face in regards to social problems affecting them in their day to day life,” Lopetakou added.

He pointed out that apart from being awe-inspiring; the mountain holds a significant spiritual value among the local people.

“The Pokot people used to worship in caves but even now some still practice it which involves offering sacrifices to the deities in case of any calamity like drought, diseases, lightning and so forth which is determined as a result of human misbehaviour,” he said.

He disclosed that the elders do camp together each year for a common prayer on imperative matters concerning the community and the nation at large while facing the mountain.

“It is a common practice for us to face the sacred Mt. Mtelo and make pleas to our creator whenever we have pressing issues and this time we were praying for peace,” he said.

Another elder Harrison Loyatum said the tree fell on the right side and in their culture when a man dies; he is laid to rest on the right hand facing Mt. Mtelo.

The mountain is also a tourist attraction.

“Visiting and hiking this mountain will let you see the beauty it carries, as well as appreciate its sanctity. The altitude means the temperature and humidity are lower than in Marich, making hiking far more comfortable and unfavourable for mosquitoes,” says Sekerr ward member of County assembly, Jane Mengich.

Mt. Mtelo is also home to black and white colobus monkeys, small antelope and three species of turaco and 10 sunbird species. It sits on the saddle of the Sekerr mountain range between the peaks of Katugh, Kaimut and Chaichai, Mt. Mtelo is the fifth highest mountain in Kenya approximately 120 km North of Kitale Town.

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