For over five decades that independent Kenya has existed, no other ragtag organization has been established and flourished than the dreaded 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 fellows pay you a courtesy call later that evening.
Mungiki has for years, enjoyed an extremely effective intelligence system, perhaps only second to that of NIS. They used to have their eyes and ears everywhere.
Yet, even with it’s fame and huge following, Mungiki has succeeded in maintaining a mystery on its origins and growth.
Well organized yet extremely secretive, Mungiki is the epitome of mystery; and so is it’s founder and leader, Maina Njenga.
It is this mystery that I am now going to exclusively and authoritatively unravel for you.
MAINA THE PROPHET
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 called Kamunya, from Laikipia County. He announced it in a school assembly.
Maina’s first strategy 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. Njenga in one of his narrations says: “It came back to my head three times.”
Of course, three times is deliberately intended to give everything a mysterious religious twist. At this point, Jesus Christ comes to mind.
After the incident, Njenga started behaving strangely. He would assemble students and read to them imaginary news bulletins shortly before 1pm.
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 mabati kind of church.
Mungiki attracted followers quite fast due to it’s rebel nature. It was simply a different school of thought. Very inspiring indeed. One that sought to reintroduce Africanism.
THE CULT IS BORN
Maina then proceeded to convert the movement into a cult.
This he did by preaching a rather interesting message. He told his followers: Do not worship in church. Our God is in Mt. Kirinyaga
And just like that, the famous ‘Facing Mt. Kenya’ (while praying) Mungiki philosophy was born and since the celebrated Mau Mau used to do it, selling it was very easy.
THE PROPHET DIES
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 light is said 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 making Maina a god!
MOI ADOPTS MUNGIKI
However, Mungiki could not survive for long, on this religion narrative alone. Maina needed something beyond religion. He needed economic muscle.
Luckily for him, then President Moi’s strategists at the time were looking for a group to help in Central Kenya, which had become hostile to KANU.
They thus decided to make use of Mungiki.
Maina’s 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.
Note that, at this point, Mungiki was non-violent; just a radical philosophy.
MUNGIKI MAKES ENTRY INTO 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, 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 bushfire, in every village in Central Kenya and the response was massive.
Unfortunately, the prophet and his ‘assitant’, Waruinge, were not prepared for this kind of success. They had simply not prepared for it. Consequently, not all their followers got jobs.
MAINA BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
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 it’s 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 economic sustainability of the movement.
This is when Mungiki started doing illegal connections of water and electricity all over.
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.
MAINA NJENGA’S MUNGIKI EXPLOITS
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 KShs. 200million. There are hundreds of sheep and several dairy cows.
His Ongata Rongai home sits on 15 acres.
His Isinya mansion, where his children live, stands on 25 acres. This one comprises of three guesthouses “to accommodate his visitors in high places!”
Maina has a home in Karen, a few hundred metres from Raila Odinga’s residence.
But the mother of his property investments is a 18 bed-roomed house that sits on 30 acres in Kitengela.
The matatu and bus business has about 400 vehicles.
And that, is the Mungiki story folks.