For over five decades that independent Kenya has existed, it would be fair to say no other ragtag organization has been established and flourished than the feared Mungiki sect.
During the proceedings of the Kenyan cases at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Mungiki shot to global fame after the court accused it of being behind the Naivasha and Nakuru retaliation attacks, during the 2007/8 post-election violence.
Until recently, even the word Mungiki used to be mentioned in low tones especially in Mt Kenya region.
No ordinary citizen could risk being heard discussing Mungiki, lest the dreaded guys paid you an unannounced visit.
Mungiki has for years, enjoyed an extremely effective intelligence system. Many believed they had their eyes and ears everywhere.
Yet, even with its fame and a huge following, they have succeeded in maintaining a mystery on its origins and growth.
Well organized yet extremely secretive, Mungiki at its prime was the epitome of mystery; and so was its founder and leader, Maina Njenga.
So, what is Mungiki and how did it come to be? Who exactly is this man Maina Njenga?
The grand movement was started by Maina Njenga, a son to a respected chief, from Laikipia County.
Born on January 2, 1969, he was the 4th born child and second son to Kamunya Njoroge a chef at Kericho Tea Hotel.
Maina grew up in Karandi, Laikipia West and went to Ol Ng’arua Primary School until 1984 before proceeding to Ortum Secondary in West Pokot.
But while in Form 3, unhappy with the school, he reportedly forged his transfer letter to Jomo Kenyatta High School in Nakuru, where he interestingly announced the formation of the movement during a morning school assembly.
It is said that one of Maina’s first strategies was to make himself a “prophet”.
Therefore, one day in class, a white dove is said to have flown in and perched on Njenga’s head. It refused to go even after he tried to chase it away.
In one of his past narrations, Njenga, in response to the incident, said the bird came back to his head “three times”.
Of course, three times is deliberately intended to give the tale a mysterious and religious touch to it.
After the incident, Njenga started behaving strangely. He would assemble students and read to them imaginary news bulletins shortly before 1 pm.
Coincidentally, what he read was similar to what was read in real news. He was thus nicknamed ‘Voice of Kenya (VOK)’.
He then started a recruitment drive whose oath was to chew a piece of paper and swallow it.
That way, slowly and meticulously, Njenga founded Mungiki.
In 1990, Mungiki had a small ‘church’ in Theria Village in Laikipia; a worship centre made of iron sheets. They attracted followers quite fast due to their rebel nature.
Their different school of thought; one which sought to reintroduce Africanism was very appealing to the masses.
Maina then proceeded to convert the movement into a cult by preaching a rather interesting message.
He told his followers not to worship in church since their God was in Mt. Kirinyaga.
Just like that, the famous ‘Facing Mt. Kenya’ (while praying) Mungiki philosophy was born.
Since the celebrated Mau Mau used to do it, selling the idea was fairly easy for the cunning Maina.
“DEATH” OF THE PROPHET
But for Maina to cement the mystery, something unique needed to happen.
Therefore, one day, out of the blues, Maina was declared dead!
On the second day, as per the plan, people gathered at the homestead of Maina’s father to mourn.
Then, on the third day, a bright light is reported to have hit the coffin and Maina emerged!
To legitimize the resurrection narrative, the story was repeated in markets and confirmed by a sect member in 1996, in a famous court case, thus basically making Maina a god among the Mungiki.
MOI AND MUNGIKI
Nonetheless, Mungiki could not survive for long based only on their religion narrative.
Maina, therefore, needed something beyond religion: economic muscle.
Luckily for him, the then President Daniel Moi’s strategists at the time were looking for a group to help solidify their control over Central Kenya, which had become hostile to KANU.
Thus, it is said, they decided to make use of Mungiki.
One story claims men and Moi’s strategists met in Kiambu and recruited 5 members in every sub-location, who were registered simply as ‘Imwana cia Moi’ (Moi’s Boys), by every sub-chief and who became the distributors of every thought and materials by KANU and Moi.
Mungiki had been converted into a political machine.
Meanwhile, Njenga the prophet tapped his family, including a gentleman called Humphrey Ndura wa Waruinge, to become the face of the movement because a prophet message is passed through priests.
A political network was formed, supported by a religious outfit and structures complete with an oath.
Moi saw the effectiveness of the group and kept them busy. He enabled the prophet to get land and even begin a major transport business.
At this point, many say Mungiki was non-violent and just a radical philosophy.
MUNGIKI AND THE MATATU BUSINESS
After the official recognition by the government of the day, Mungiki acquired the first 50 matatus and in a major meeting in Laikipia.
During the event, Njenga announced he was merely a Treasurer and that the young men from Central Kenya were the real owners of the matatus.
They were to volunteer to drive and tout their ‘own’ vehicles and make money for ‘themselves’
As expected, that call to enrichment spread like a wild bushfire in every village in Central Kenya. The response was just as massive.
Unfortunately, the prophet and his ‘assistant’, Waruinge, were not prepared for this kind of success. They had simply not prepared for it. Consequently, not all of their followers got jobs.
However, a cousin of Njenga, a PCEA cleric in Laikipia, came to the rescue with a master plan that gave birth to the modern-day Mungiki; a ruthless movement that stops at nothing when pushing its agenda.
The cleric urged for:
1. Recruitment of professionals in the management of Mungiki businesses.
2. Capitalization on the failures of the state to acquire necessary political capital.
3. Reintroduction of compulsory rites to maintain the emotional support of the followers.
4. Establishment of a fundraising arm for the economic sustainability of the movement.
This is when Mungiki started doing illegal connections of water and electricity across the region.
The movement then went ahead to reintroduce Kikuyu Female Circumcision rites and also fought Hospital Male Circumcision.
But most importantly, the fellows introduced a levy for every matatu employing the youth to the ‘source’.
To counter rebellion, defection was criminalized and categorized as punishable by death!
Nightfall Mingiki oathing and parties were also introduced.
THIS MAN MAINA NJENGA
Over the years, Maina Njenga reaped numerous economic gains from the movement he began as a mere boy.
Today, Maina has a rural home sitting on 50 acres, worth about Sh200 million, with hundreds of sheep and dairy cows.
His Ongata Rongai home sits on up to 15 acres of prime land.
His Isinya mansion, where his children live, stands on 25 acres. This one comprises of three guesthouses to accommodate his visitors.
Maina has a home in Karen, a few hundred metres from Raila Odinga’s residence.
But the mother of his property investments is an 18 bedroomed house that sits on over 30 acres in Kitengela.
His matatu and bus business is rumoured to have about 400 vehicles.
From his story, it is quite clear Maina Njenga is a man from a humble background and an average education who rose to become the leader of a murderous sect believed to be behind the beheading of hundreds of Kenyans who went against their ridiculous beliefs and demands.
He has never held a job, ran for office or won a lottery.
But he has been a good friend to Daniel Moi, Raila Odinga, Margaret Wanjiru and the likes.
With Kamlesh Pattni, they formed a bogus council of elders that visited the likes of Muammar Gaddafi crowning them funny titles.
When NARC came to power in 2003, there were claims that the previous government had assigned military vehicles to Mungiki.
Following the Mathira massacre, Njenga was held at King’ong’o Prison, but he had a secret card up his sleeve: blackmail.
Through his lawyer Paul Muite, he threatened to name all the politicians and rich men who were friends of Mungiki.
And just like that, the state miraculously withdrew all charges.
Njenga was then driven to Jesus Is Alive Ministries where he got saved. From what? Nobody knows.
Bishop Wanjiru prayed for Njenga and baptised him with the name John Maina Njenga.
The ex Mungiki leader was baptised alongside other youth believed to have been members of the outlawed group.
Kenyans did not take Njenga’s baptism seriously and alleged that he was hiding the born again tag.
Families of people who Maina Njenga had allegedly massacred through MunWherecried and feared for their lives.
Njenga however said that he was serious in accepting Christ and would never look back.
A month after his baptism, Njenga formed the Hope International Ministries church located in Nairobi’s Kasarani area.
The church also opened branches in Kajiado, Kitengela and other parts of the country.
In case you forgot, it was the same day Cholmondoley Delamere was also released.
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