05 October, 2014
Is there buried treasure in a cave in central Kenya? Reports of such have created great excitement in the village of Maraigushu. Some villagers even dream of becoming rich. Others see it as a dangerous hoax.
It is not clear how the rumor started. But the story goes that white settlers hid valuable metals in a cave near the village many years ago. Reports say the hidden treasures are worth millions of dollars. Treasure hunters reportedly are searching for gold, mercury and other precious metals.
A local man, Edward Maina, says the rumors have brought hundreds of treasure hunters into town to dig in the cave.
"It's not long ago that people came and they went to excavate the cave, and we don't know them. We heard them saying that in the 1800s a white man left treasures inside the cave and closed it off."
Residents say treasure seekers first entered the cave nearly two months ago. Police detained them and local officials closed the cave entrance. However, excavators later broke in again.
No gold or mercury has been found. However, the cave does hold another important resource: water.
Many local people depend on that natural spring water. Officials worry that digging could affect, or even contaminate, the water supply.
Gaka Mwaniki is a local official.
"There's nothing. We've seen ourselves there's nothing in those caves, they are excavating for the first time, it's natural. It's the water table that they're interfering with."
Politicians from the nearby town of Naivasha are accusing one another of supporting the treasure hunt. There are also reports that unemployed young people are being pressured to dig in dangerous conditions.
Local resident James Mbugua Njenga wants the government to take control of the situation.
"If at all there's treasure inside there, let the government come and excavate and preserve the water table."
Maybe the cave does hold metal riches. Maybe the reports are just a hoax. But the mystery of the cave and the hunt for treasure continues.
I'm Marsha James.
*This story came from reporter Gabe Joselow, in Maraigushu, Kenya. Marsha James wrote it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in this Story
hoax - n. an act that is meant to trick or deceive people
rumor – n. information or a story that is passed from person to person but has not been proven to be true
excavator – n. a person who digs up things that have been buried for a long time
contaminate – v. to make something dangerous, dirty, or impure by adding something harmful or undesirable to it
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