MBUVORI MARKET: ONCE VIBRANT MARKET NOW GHOST TOWN
It was once a robust town bustling with activity and trade. This was in the late 70s and mid 80s when Mbuvori was the epitome of civilization in Embu, but today, the town is virtually a ghost town with most shops closed.
Mbuvori’s rise to fame was occasioned by booming timber trade; notably sale of valuable indigenous Meru oak and mahogany tree species.
According to mzee Gichovi, a local who has seen the town in its heydays, moneyed timber merchants from as far as the Kenyan coast thronged the town for wood. “There emerged several local millionaires from the timber proceeds… there was plenty of beer and women”. He adds pointing to a spot where one popular bar once stood. The town was awash with ex-British trucks popularly known as “Ithûng’a” which could ferry tree logs from deep inside the Mt. forest.
This logging continued for over a decade and paved room for establishment of Nyayo tea zones. All the while, there was booming business in Mbuvori with residents of Kathangariri, Kianjokoma, Kiriari and even Embu town traveling to Mbuvori to buy clothes, shoes, foodstuff, cereals etc as many items could be found in the town.
However, the town’s glory was short lived. Soon, the government banned illegal logging in the forest which spelled doom for local merchants and locals who directly depended on the trade. Sale of ivory, leopard skin and other game trophy was also later criminalized.
As recession took toll on Mbuvori which roughly translates to “place of the wind”, its bars and shops closed down, one shop after another and today the once vibrant economy and marvel of Embu is a ghost town characterized by inactivity and closed shops. Some residents even attribute witchcraft to Mbuvorî’s downfall from grace to grass