Folks, in the past few days, an interesting conversation has emerged in which, the digital and social media space has played host to a bitter, faith-fueled war of words pitting staunch Kikuyu traditions hardliners under the umbrella of Gwata Ndai on one side, against their Christian counterparts.
But perhaps all this could not have come up if one man had remained alive. It is the demise of Gwata Ndai adherent, one Ng’ang’a Wa Wanjiku from Kiambu County, which ignited it all.
A staunch advocate of the Gwata Ndai formation, Munjiru Mbari Ya Mega as he was popularly known, remained equally controversial in death just as he was in life, with his exit and subsequent ‘traditional’ interment evoking emotional conversations among members and supporters of his line of faith and their Christian archrivals in equal measure.
In life, Munjiru Mbari Ya Mega unapologetically championed for a peculiar cause; that of the Gwata Ndai ideology, advanced by a controversial cultural group originating in Kiambu, seeking for the return of the Kikuyu community to its traditions and which has been fast spreading to other neighbouring areas. And whereas Gwata Ndai has come out severally to clarify that it is not a cult and does not by any means advocate for anything wrong, its modus operandi has evoked not so pleasant memories of the dreaded Mungiki sect with the grouping accused of advocating for practices such female genital mutilation.
Gwata Ndai (literally help solve the puzzle), which operates mostly in Ndumberi, Kiambu, has been on the spot for preaching peculiar activities. According to those in the know, members are not only instructed not to go to church, but also force their wives to allegedly undergo the cut. The group which converges at Hanna’s Garden on Kiambu-Ndumberi Road on Sundays every two weeks has opened branches in Githunguri, Nderu in Ndeiya, Limuru and Mai Mahiu in Naivasha.
Gwata Ndai was allegedly established by a person the members refer to as “Mutarii” or the godfather who after “speaking to the gods” had a revelation that the ills and misfortunes bedeviling society are brought about by disrespecting teachings of forefathers.
It is these ideals of Gwata Ndai, which followed Munjiru Mbari Ya Mega to the grave, which made his demise a media sensation.
Apparently, the man was interred in what was described as a ‘Kikuyu traditional burial’ ceremony which did not go well with the Christian fraternity. On the day the man was laid to rest, the topic of ‘paying debts to ancestors’ or ‘ngomis’ kept popping up online.
Now folks, I am least concerned with the argument on whether one should pay debts to ‘ngomis’ or not. As much as I know, matters of faith are very personal. You see, I don’t have to agree with your religious orientation to be right.
There is a reason why the freedom of worship is enshrined in our constitution. Whether you decide to subscribe to Jehovah Wanyonyi or Mightiest Prophet David Owuor is up to you.
But at no particular point should we have a conversation where we are going for each other’s necks simply because of the religion we subscribe to for if this happens, then we have a reason to be worried. The core of our social fabric is at risk.
I watched with amazement as staunch Christians and diehard Gwata Ndai adherents went for each other, something completely uncalled for.
Folks, the direction this entire conversation is now taking is not just divisive but also scary.
To me, this is not the kind of discourse we should be having. Instead, we should be having more sobriety on the issues at hand. If Gwata Ndai is promoting immoral practices such as FGM, then we should procedurally get to the bottom of such without name calling and mudslinging.
By the way, I have been silently asking myself, what has led to the emergence of formations like Gwata Ndai? Is it not the faith identity gap in our current society where even the church has become a commercial enterprise and completely lost credibility as a moral compass?
Should the church not get its act right first if it was to rectify things?