Mungiki Emerges: Part Two

8 Apr


Fifth, There was Mungiki, the international terrorists.  By 2007, Mungiki began to be labeled as an international terrorist group by members of the international and local press. Political reporters and bloggers began intimating that Mungiki was now being supported by Muslim extremists around East and Central Africa especially al Qaeda’s Somali terrorist connection- al-Shabaab. Word on the street was that the members of Mungiki had begun to embrace Islamic ideology and were slowly aligning themselves with al Qaeda and al-Shabaab cells currently operating within Nairobi. But although some members of Mungiki did begin to consider the ideology, the main group never converted to Islam and although some of its members flirted with the idea of becoming international terrorists the largest part of the group remained loyal to their Kikuyu roots. It was rumored that Mungiki had divided into two separate groups: those who wanted to align themselves with international terrorists and those who preferred to stay with Mania Njenga and remain a Kikuyu rights organization. Hundreds of Mungiki members were found dead in empty fields and ditches in the early morning hours around Nairobi. Mungiki leaders claimed that the Kenyan police were responsible for these murders and the police countered by blaming it on the infighting caused by the split in the organization.

From the spring of 2007 until well after the general election at the end of December 2007, Narobi was a virtual tinderbox ready to erupt into violence at the smallest provocation. By the summer of 2007 Mungiki and the Nairobi police had been engaged in constant, open warfare against one another for about two years within the slums of Nairobi and on the residential streets of the city itself. The use of automatic weapons on both sides placed Kenyan citizens in danger as innocent bystanders were caught in the crossfire and killed by the deluge of bullets spewed forth by both sides.

One thing was abundantly clear; someone had been supplying the Mungiki guerillas with: information about the police department’s movements, reliable, new, automatic weapons, and an endless supply of ammunition. How could a group of unemployed young men forced to live in the slums of Nairobi because of their lack of money continue to battle the well- equipped Nairobi police? How had Mungiki amassed the funds it took to fight the police on a regular basis and continue to supply their underground fighters? As most newspaper editorials and nightly television news reports declared at the time- someone or a group of “someones” had either been supplying Mungiki with the money or transporting the weapons and materials to them in order for them to continue waging these numerous violent, retaliatory strikes.

At the same time some known Mungiki members began to change their style of dress and modle their actions on young male, Ethiopian Rastafarians who were also prevalent in Nairobi at this time. Many of these young men had been born in the country of Ethiopia, the home of the Rastafari Movement and could be easily identified on the street by their rastas talk, dreadlocks, puffy knit caps in which they collected and held their long dreads, loose colorful shirts, reggae music, devotion to Bob Marley and his songs, and the use of weed Ganja.

For some reason members of Mungiki in 2007 began wearing dreads similar to members in the Rastrfari movement, talked “ Rasta”, stopped bathing or brushing their teeth daily, and snorted “snuff” rather than the traditional Ganga. Members who would talk about the reason for this new image brought up the fact that they had been made to keep themselves clean as an expectation of the British government back when Kenya was a British colony and that this had not been their natural state when they had existed as a Kikuyu nation. Their lack of acceptable hygiene caused both Kikuyu and non-Kikuyus alike to swear that they could “smell the secret sect members long before seeing them” but these practices did remain part of Mungiki culture for almost a full decade.

Now extorting money from the people of Kenya is an old practice because in some form or other all local and international businesses in Nairobi pay money to the Kenyan Police. The police in Kenya are brutal organization who were formally reprimanded by their own government for their use of excessive force and violence against the citizens of Kenya during and after the 2007 elections. Tourists from other countries who have who have turned to the police for assistance or directions usually get shaken down in return. Policemen are sent out by their station commanders to extort money from everyone, and I do mean everyone, especially during the night-time hours. The police are infamous for their inspection road blocks lined with spiked barriers that funnel all moving vehicles on the main roads of Kenya into their greedy, open arms. Many a night we were stopped by the Nairobi police on our drive to the airport to pick up volunteers for the orphanage who had were flying in from Europe and the United States only to be stopped by Nairobi policemen who discretely placed their rifles in our open car windows and would not let us pass until we slipped them about ten dollars US money in Kenyan shillings. It happened so frequently it became an expected, additional expense when traveling throughout Kenya.

But by 2006-2007 the Matatu and Taxi Cab drivers began complaining to the Nairobi police to whom they were paying exorbitant sums of protection money about the demands of Mungiki. A couple of the braver Matatu drivers went as far as to inform members of Mungiki that they refused to pay them protection money. Several of these men were immediately pulled from their buses and killed by Mungiki. Their bodies were hacked to pieces using pangas ( machetes) and their dismembered body parts strewn throughout village transportation centers around central Kenya. Mungiki did this to send a clear message to the other Matatu and Taxi cab drivers in and around the city letting them know that the police could not help them and if they did not pay up they would be murdered in a similar fashion.

The Kenyan police are as cruel a group of killers as Mungiki, only they have the law on their side. Under Kenyan law, police are not required to read anyone his/her rights and have been known to shoot Kenyan citizens in the back on the streets especially in slums like Mathare and Kibera if they even suspect them of committing a crime. I witnessed them do this during the summer of 2007 on several occasions. Then the body of the corpse is quickly heaved into the back of a police truck and off they go. Kenya’s law enforcement agencies and prisons are brutal places from which few survive.

Mungiki’s open defiance caused certain police authorities to become enraged at their actions and demand retribution. And because Mungiki had begun to interfere in their illegal extortion practices in and around the city, the Nairobi police began shooting anyone on sight who they suspected of extorting money from Taxi Cab or Matatu drivers on the main routes leading in and out of Nairobi. Every day during the summer daily newspapers ran headlines attesting to this violence and the retaliation from Mungiki- with the citizens of Kenya caught in the middle.

But Mungiki’s operations suddenly took a dramatic change as the general election drew near during the fall and winter of 2007. Now It seemed Mungiki were being protected by the Kenyan police as they lead  retaliatory attacks in Naivasha and Nakuru and Rift Valley and it has been alleged by former Prosecutor of the ICC, Luis Moreno Ocampo that Mungiki leaders had been brought to the president’s official residence in Nairobi, in order to plan these attacks. The presidential election held on December 2007 sparked another series of violent protests, demonstrations, and vigilante murders by pitting one tribe against the other. Many people were murdered, injured, or lost their homes in the fighting that continued on for months. The Nairobi police used brutal tactics in quelling these protests and many were publically censored and even reassigned to positions outside of Nairobi for their inhumane actions.  Many Kikuyu families in the Rift Valley are still living in displacement camps as of 2013. The incumbent president Mwai Kibaki won the election but the opposition candidate, Raila Odinga accused the government of fraud and rejected the election results. Finally after lengthy negotiations, a position was created for Odinga and he was declared the Prime Minister of Kenya.

By 2008 young men from the Kalenjin tribe from Rift Valley had openly engaged in conflict against the Kikuyu, especially in violent altercations with members of Mungiki living in and around the Rift and Central Provinces. Uhuru Kenyatta, Kikuyu politician and candidate for president during the 2002 elections has been charged by the International Criminal Court ( ICC) for organizing and funding Mungiki during the 2006 presidential and general elections to make retaliatory attacks upon the Kalenjin tribe. There are substantiated claims that Uhuru Kenyatta met with Mungiki leaders on several occasions during 2007-2008 to provide the group with the money and resources it needed to continue the riots and bloody violence throughout Naivasha and Nukuru and that he supported this violence well into the spring of 2008.

William Ruto a well-known Kalenjin politician has been also formally charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) with inciting the killings of Kikuyu farmers in central Kenya during the 2006- 2007 general and presidential elections. According to the noted American essayist, Charles Dudley Warner, “Politics makes strange bedfellows,”  and in this case no stranger than this new political alliance. Both Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruot ran on the same ticket during the recent March 2013 elections and won. These past enemies are now the current President and Vice President of the country of Kenya.

In 2010, then Prosecutor of the ICC Luis Moreno- Ocampo officially summoned six people: Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta Industrialization Minister, Henry Kosegey, Education Minister William Ruto, Cabinet Secretary Francis Muthaura, radio executive Joshua Arap Sang and former police commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali.  Charges were eventually dismissed against Ali and Kosegey. The men were indicted by the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber II on 8 March 2011 and summoned to appear before the Court in the Hague, Netherlands. Some of the witnesses against Uhuru Kenyatta in this trial are former Mungiki members. Moreno- Ocampo, an Argentinean lawyer has since resigned from his post as Prosecutor for the ICC to assume a new position in the FIFA, World Soccer Organization making a lot of people around the world wonder just how important these indictments were to him in the first place.  

In court submissions made by ICC counsel Desiree Lurf, and based on a report compiled by a UN official, all of the Mungiki leaders who were placed in charge of the retaliatory attacks in Nakuru and Naivasha have been killed by the Kenyan secret police, to prevent them from implicating certain  government officials. The court was also informed that the weapons used by Mungiki in Nakuru and Naivasha had been shipped from Somalia but had been first transported to the presidential offices in Nairobi. It went on to mention that Mungiki had received additional shipments of guns as well as machetes in January of 2009 as the violence in Nairobi continued to escalate.

The prosecution claimed that the money was supplied by none other than Uhuru Kenyatta, Minister of Finance at the time and that Cabinet Secretary, Francis Muthaura ordered the Kenyan police not to interfere with “ Mungiki’s movements” in Naivasha and in Nakuru. Local Kikuyu MPs in the Central Provinces began recruiting young Kikuyu boys and men then transporting them to the sites of the attacks, paying  them to take part in the violence. Money was also paid to Mungiki leaders to ensure their cooperation in the assaults. Lurf also claimed that the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) had provided specific information to Muthaura about the attacks well in advance but that he refused to act on this information.

Sixth, There is Mungiki, the Pentecostal Church

In 2009, while still in Naivasha prison for possession of drugs and a gun Mungiki leader Maina Njenga dissolved the Mungiki sect after converting to Christianity and was miraculously acquitted of those charges in April of the same year.  Then he was immediately rearrested for the murders of 29 people in the central Kenyan town of Karatina and began serving time in Kamiti maximum security prison. Incredibly these charges were dismissed against him too because the public prosecutor claimed there was not enough evidence to support the charge of murder.  So in October of 2009, Maina Njenga avoided punishment a second time causing the citizens of Kenya to wonder just how he had helped the Kenyan government to deserve such a handsome reward. But Maina was facing problems of his own after Mungiki spokesman David Gitau Njuguna had been shot dead in Nairobi and the Chairman and Treasurer of his Kenya National Youth Alliance were gunned down on the Nairobi – Naivasha highway. While in prison he had been befriended by Prime Minister Raila Odinga, but it was an uneasy relationship from the start even though Njenga publically supported Odinga for president in the March 2013 elections

 Once he had been released from prison he formed his own Pentecostal church called Hope International Ministries and established The Kenya National Youth Alliance (KNYA). He claimed that he was not longer a leader of the Mungiki organization only no one believed him. Njenga had always been popular with the young people of Central Kenya and his popularity continued to grow now that he was “out on the streets.” He had once stated that, “ he had millions of Kenyan youth with him- he just had to call them to him”. In was within this period that a second split in Mungiki seemed to occur with some of the original members joining Njenga in his new-found Christianity and the rest remaining loyal to the former Kikuyu sect.

Seventh , There is Mungiki, the Political Party

In June 2012, Maina Njenga took over the leadership of the Mkenya Solidarity Party which shows just how many of his followers were already in the organization causing the party’s founder, Gigi Kariuki to join Uhuru Kenyatta’s party, The National Alliance instead.

Mkenya Solidarity then began supporting the CORD alliance (Coalition of Reform and Democracy) led by Prime Minister Raila Odinga after Maina Njenga announced that he intended to run for president of Kenya in the 2013 elections but could not raise the campaign money he needed and changed his mind. He then decided to run for the position of senator representing Nairobi.

Interestingly enough, in the fall of 2012 Njenga claimed that he could assure Odinga over five million votes in the looming presidential election but that did not happen. He was not able to bring the former Prime Minister the crowds he had promised nor did he win his seat as senator representing Nairobi in the general elections. That could pose a serious problem in his next bid for a seat in the Kenyan government but he has done quite well for himself for a man who has just entered the political arena. He has a very strong base in potential young Kikuyu voters. The Kikuyu tribe makes up 22 % of Kenya’s voting population making them an influential political constituency and Central Kenya is one of the most unpredictable regions during election time. However, it remains to be seen whether or not the current Mungiki leadership can influence just how their supporters will vote.

Eighth, There is Mungiki, the International Criminals

 Mungiki Leader Maina Njenga has just been included in the list of Kenyan suspects indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Maina may not get off from this charge as easily as he evaded the others.

His name is listed in Criminal Charges against Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former Head of Public Service ambassador Francis Muthaura. The prosecutor also included the names of the other members of Mungiki who allegedlyworked with Uhuru and Muthaura in the planned attacks in Naivasha and Nakuru. Maina Njenga has been specifically identified as one of the top Mungiki leaders who was contacted and subsequently secured Mungiki’s services for the Party of National Unity (PNU) coalition. Mania Njenga was a recognized Mungiki leader during the 2007-08 post election violence where over 1000 people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes and villages. The ICC trial of Uhuru and Muthaura will begin at the Hague on April 10th, 2013.

Kat Nickerson                         Kingston, RI                            USA



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: