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"Three Slain Over Commuter Route Dispute"

by Stephen Muiruri ("The Nation," September 18, 2001)

Three people were hacked to death at the weekend, sparking off demonstrations by matatu operators yesterday.
Two members of matatu (commuter vehicle) crew were killed on Sunday night by alleged Mungiki sect members. The touts fought off the raiders and killed one.
A bloody battle ensued when about 60 alleged Mungiki followers, armed with guns, bows, arrows, pangas and metal bars, raided the city's Dandora rubbish dump to flush out the touts. They commandeered four matatus to ferry them to the site.
Yesterday, the matatu men paralysed activities in the city centre as they drove in a convoy to Vigilance House, the police headquarters, to seek audience with Police Commissioner Philemon Abong'o.
Some were drunk, while others openly smoked bhang as they hang recklessly on the doors of the matatus.
About 150 Nissans and 70 mini-buses were withdrawn from the Dandora route before the angry drivers drove to Mr Abong'o's office. Hundreds of Dandora residents were stranded, while others walked for three kilometres to the Juja-Outer Ring roundabout.
They blocked Outer Ring and Thika roads as they drove to the city with their vehicles' headlights on and horns blaring.
Other motorists were forced off the road, while business on Tom Mboya street and Harambee Avenue was disrupted by the loud noise.
"We want to present a memorandum to Mr Abong'o. Gangsters are slaughtering our people like chickens and police are taking no action!" their leader, Mr Hostine Odhiambo, said.
Central divisional police boss Sammy Maritim, backed by a riot squad, blocked the protesters from storming Mr Abong'o's office.
Operations at police headquarters were disrupted by the blaring horns. Mr Maritim ordered the protesters to drive to the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.
When they obliged, Nairobi police chief Geoffrey Muathe instructed him on the walkie talkie not to hold dialogue with but arrest them.
Mr Maritim followed them to the KICC and ordered them to drive away.
Buru Buru divisional police chief Japhet Koome said his officers had arrested three suspects over the Sunday incident and seized blood-stained weapons.
"Bad blood between the two groups has been in existence for a long time. The attackers are normally very swift," he said.
On the Sunday incident, Mr Koome explained that the Mungiki men ambushed the touts and slashed one to death at the dumping site. As the raiders escaped, the touts cornered one and slashed him fatally on the head.
A tout, Mr John Muriithi, said: "It appears that these people have a licence to kill innocent Kenyans with impunity. The killers are known and their names have been presented to the police. Why have they not taken any action?."
A resident, Mr Peter Mutwiwa, said: "The officers operate a kangaroo court at the police post and those arrested pay Sh500 for their freedom."
The touts and Mungiki men have recently engaged in bloody street battles over the control of the route. Four touts and a Mungiki man were killed on July 23. Another tout was slashed to death last Thursday.

"How Youthful Leaders Rose to Head Unregistered Group"

by Mburu Mwangi ("The Nation," September 9, 2001)

Mohammed Maina Njenga and Ibrahim Ndura Waruinge could be any two young Kenyans trying to make a living. Simply dressed and unassuming, there is little outward indication that they are the faces behind, Mungiki.
Njenga, 29, and Waruinge, 28, come across as polite, courteous young men. None of the wild-eyed, fire-breathing proselytes one might expect of the spiritual leader and national coordinator, respectively, of the movement.
Of the two, Waruinge is the better known. He is the constant presence in the thick of things at Mungiki rallies and confrontations with the police.
The more reserved Njenga, however, is the chairman and spiritual leader of a movement. He weaves a fantastic story of how he got to be in this position.
The movement, says Njenga <ETH> sometimes referred to as "bishop" <ETH> began in 1987, when several people, complete strangers, "experienced a series of visions".
His story begins at Jomo Kenyatta High School, Nakuru, when a dove landed on his head. He was only 16, he says.
The story in his own words: "We were in class when a dove flew into the room and landed on my head. I chased it away but it came back and again I chased it away.
"When it came for the third time and landed on my head, everybody, including the teacher took to their heels, leaving me alone.
"I was dumbfounded and blinded, until a beam of light appeared in the background. I could clearly see some words written in bold letters.
"As I tried to read them, a loud clear voice read them out for me: 'This is the voice of the Almighty God. I have heard the cries of my people. I am going to liberate them. Be ready for a great mission.'
"That night, I couldn't sleep. In the dark of the night, my room was suddenlyfilled with light and a person in a traditional headgear, a skin cloth threaded with beads wrapped around his waist and holding a fly whisk appeared.
"The man took my hand and that was the beginning of the long journey to what was believed to be the Kikuyu "Garden of Eden" at Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga, Murang'a.
"I heard the voice of the almighty again and was also blessed by legendary Kikuyu prophets like Mugo wa Kibiru and Waiyaki wa Hinga.
"The climax of the four-day ordeal, I was rolled down to earth by a ball made of shining stars. When the ball finally reached the earth, I opened my eyes to find myself in a coffin. The coffin split open and everybody around fled.
"For two weeks, I was taught how to preach and the gist of it was about the return of the Kikuyu to their cultural roots."
Other people who were to become the founder members are reported to have had similar visions and were miraculously brought together. The movement was born.
Raising eyebrows
Before that, they claim, none knew the other.
Njenga went to school in Ortum Secondary, West Pokot District, but transferred to complete his Ordinary level education at Jomo Kenyatta after about two years.
The national co-ordinator, Waruinge, says the leaders started preaching the ideals of the movement in Nakuru, Laikipia and later in Nyeri. Then the Government and the Church started raising eyebrows.
Waruinge says although the movement supports cultural values of all communities, it abhors primitive ones like the circumcision of women.
This is in sharp contrast to what Mungiki members are reported to have done in various parts of Central Province. They first came to national attention after widespread reports, unconfirmed, that they were practising forcible circumcision of women and also forcing people into gruesome oathing ceremonies.
Waruinge, born in 1973 in Molo, attended Karitu Primary School, Kericho, from 1980 and later Cardinal Otunga and Molo secondary schools.
He says the movement now wants to encompass politics in its activities. It has already caused a stir in the last two weeks through well-attended rallies in Thika and Nairobi which were not violently dispersed by police as before.
He has already expressed interest in the Molo parliamentary seat now held by Mr Kihika Kimani. He won't say on which party he will seek sponsorship, but affirms that Mungiki will field candidates in at least 150 constituencies across the country.
He also says, with a straight face, that the movement has already raised Sh800 million out of a targeted Sh3 billion to fund its participation in electoral campaigns. He says the money is largely from members contributions, claiming, again without batting an eyelid, a membership roll of over 4.5 million (more than twice the vote secured by President Moi at the last election).
The movement, says Waruinge, is led by a 12-member board of governors and an equal number of directors, together with national governing council of 100 people.
Mungiki is not registered and neither does it intend to seek registration. Neither does it have a formal headquarters or place of worship.
Members are mostly recognised by their dreadlocks in emulation of the Mau Mau freedom fighters.
Njenga dismisses claims that Mungiki inducts members using chilling Mau Mau-type oathing ceremonies which incorporate blood and raw meat. But Njenga and Waruinge, who adopted names Mohammed and Ibrahim, respectively, on adopting Islam, say such stories are hate propaganda.
One prominent non-Kikuyu to have gone through the Mungiki initiation rites is former Safina secretary-general Mwandawiro Mghanga. He is the only public figure to have been openly associated with Mungiki.

"Why Mungiki's Change of Tactics Raises a Tumult"

("The Nation," September 9, 2001)

In the first instalment of the Time of Change series, the politics surrounding the Moi Succession, Special Projects Editor MACHARIA GAITHO looks at the Mungiki movement. Where did they come from and what are they up to?
In the run-up to the pivotal General Election of next year, President Moi is consumed with how to manage the transition as he prepares for life in retirement.
He has pulled a major coup by engineering the impending merger of Kanu and Mr Raila Odinga's National Development Party.
He is increasingly talking about passing the baton to a younger generation of leaders in Kanu.
But Central Province remains a headache. Democratic Party chairman Mwai Kibaki is poised to provide the biggest challenge to the Kanu presidential nominee, and has been working to ensure that he dominates the large Central Kenya vote.
That is a vote that Kanu is desperate to capture, buy or divide. The dismal failure in 1997 of the Central Province Development Support Group - the so-called Kikuyu Elite - fronted by Kanu Secretary-General Joseph Kamotho calls for new ways to tackle the problem.
Dividing the vote
Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's founding President, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, has been roped in to play a central role as the youthful face of a new Kikuyu leadership generation. But he did not perform too greatly either in in 1997 political debut. His presence will not be enough to substantially divide, let alone capture, the Kikuyu vote.
The other option is divide the Central Province Opposition vote. Kanu right now would give anything to have Mr Kenneth Matiba step back into the fray. Standing instructions have been issued to the Registrar of Societies that any application by Mr Matiba's unregistered Saba Saba Asili be approved without delay.
But Mr Matiba himself has been sending contradictory signals. His supporters have been urging him to have another go at the presidency, and recently indicated that he would indeed offer himself once his party was registered. Then came the rider that he would not seek registration from a Government he claims is illegitimate.
Changed police approach
In the meantime, Mungiki stepped into the breach. Its members, recognisable by their dreadlocks, regularly make the news for constant confrontation with the police. Sometimes, it is the police violently breaking up their political-religious meetings.
At other times it is Mungiki followers taking the battle to the police stations in bids to free arrested colleagues.
What is clear is that the authorities have viewed Mungiki as a serious security threat.
But, in the past few weeks, a sea of change has been observed. Mungiki has held two well-attended rallies, with none of the regular violent police interventions.
Speculation was bound to rise to fever pitch.
Why have the police changed their approach towards Mungiki? Could it be related to the new political message being delivered?
Is Mungiki being used to eat into the appeal of the mainstream opposition in Central Province? Is it by mere coincidence that Mungiki leaders are echoing President Moi's new-found disposition to the emergence of youthful leaders?

Mungiki Movement (Kenya) Updates 2001

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