State hands Kikuyu elders100-acre shrine in Mt Kenya forest

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[Source: Daily Nation, by Gakuu Mathenge and Joseph Wangui]

Kikuyu elders have finally acquired a shrine inside Mt Kenya forest after 56 years of waiting and frustrations by successive governments.

On Saturday, the 100-acre shrine was handed over to the 12 Kikuyu community high priests by Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko.

The high priests led by Mr Mathenge wa Iregi said the shrine, which is in Narumoru at the protected Mount Kenya National Park ecosystem, came after a struggle and intense lobbying.

“During the country’s independence, Mau Mau fighters told God that if he enables them eject the British colonial administration, they would set up a community’s traditional holy prayer centre.

“The country got the internal rule but we were unable to deliver on our pledge to God,” Mr Iregi said.

The priests’ coordinator, Mr Wambugu Nyamu, explained that the holy shrine also has a sacred altar, whose access is restricted to the high priests only.

The restricted place is where the traditional spiritual leaders were using to communicate with God (Ngai wa Kirinyaga) while facing Mt Kenya and offering their sacrifices on behalf of the community.

Mr Nyamu lamented that initially the elders used to pay some fees to access the shrine and some were even being arrested and prosecuted for conducting their traditional rituals at the shrine without authority.

Mr Nyamu explained that the elders committed to government that they will strictly plant traditional Kikuyu trees, shrubs and medicinal plants at the shrine.

He said plans for acquisition of the shrine started two years ago, and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry was apprehensive that the intention was to grab the land for use in profit-making activities.

Mr Tobiko told the elders not to put up a permanent structure in the shrine, graze animals or any form of farming. He also cautioned that acquisition of the shrine is not gaining ownership of the forestry ecosystem.

[Full article: Daily Nation, by Gakuu Mathenge and Joseph Wangui]


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