By Jeff Andrew Lule
It is a significant landmark heritage site in Teso land. These are the Nyero rocks located about 10kms from Kumi town, and about 250kms from Kampala in the Eastern part of Uganda.
To date after over 2000 years, these rocks and their mysterious paintings/drawings remain very significant to the people of Teso.
William Opio, a tour guide and caretaker of the site says though the area was originally inhabited by the pygmies commonly known as the Batwa, the Itesot ancestors continued to use the rock sites for ritualism and other cultural ceremonies.
“Until now many of our people believe this place is a sacred place of gods. Some still come here for cultural prayers, blessings, sacrifices, and those who need childbearing. They value those paints too,” he said.
The paintings and caves
According to oral history, the Batwa were pushed out by the present settlers (Itesots) who had migrated from Karamoja.
The pygmies are currently found on the borders of Uganda, Congo, and Rwanda.
Opio says the Batwa were hunters and food gatherers. “So they painted all these drawings to illustrate their lifestyle and culture,” he explains.
The drawings are depicted in red and white paintings believed to have been drawn using animal blood, fats, urine, and a mixture of foliage sap.
Every tourist or visitor to the site is first taken through the code of conduct before touring the magnificent rocks.
On the immediate left, about 50 meters into the premises of the site is a modern circular house in form of a hut constructed with rocks, with a replicated concentric circle logo, which is common on all the rock paintings.
This is the same logo found on the Uganda sh1000/=.
The site had six spots with various paintings but the arts on the three other spots were washed out.
Opio says this leaves the other site in danger if nothing is done about it urgently.
The whole site is filled with smooth l stacked rocks within dispersed thorn-bushy vegetation.
The site also has a range of medicinal plants with a host of other creatures the common being gecko and agama lizards, and velvet monkeys.
The edges of the first cave have white-colored paintings/drawing is concentric circles, crocodiles, a canoe, and a ladder.
“They used to believe in the sun as their God a reason they painted those circles, they used canoes as a means of transport and fishing, and ladder to climb tall trees to get fruits,” he explains.
The second site is high raised about 10-15 meters with the painting is the same height presented against another overhand wall. It has more paintings, though many are the same as the ones at the first site.
However, these paintings are depicted in a red pigment.
According to Opio, the third cave is the mother of all and the inspiration for the sh1000 note features.
“This is where our grandparents used to do ritualism like for rain making, fertility for barren and cleansing, and spiritual prayers among others. Even today people come for cultural prayers,” he adds.
This rock was formed by a large boulder perched on top of supporting rocks with no standing room. All visitors have to bend to get inside.
At this site, one can have a glimpse of Ngora rocks and the other land below. The white painting here comprises white concentric circles; with outer circles surrounded by double curved designs, between which are double lines divided into smaller compartments.
Opio stresses that the circle portrays the eclipse of the moon. Apart from paintings, visitors are also treated to rock hiking, community tours, and bird watching