The Trials and Persecution of Mungiki – The Dread Warrior Lions of Kenya

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By Jide Uwechia

Mungikis…the Dread lions of Kenya

Mungiki Elder sent to prison by the Kenyan State

The former leader of Kenya’s outlawed Mungiki movement has been jailed for having an illegal gun and cannabis possession.

John Kamunya, alias Maina Njenga, was sentenced to five years in jail by a Nairobi court for possessing a gun and nearly 5kg of marijuana.

After the sentencing, his two wives became hysterical, weeping profusely and protesting the injustice of the Kenyan government.

Kamunya, now a “Christian convert”, was last month freed on another charge of recruiting Mungiki members.

The Mungiki are thought to be militants from Kenya’s biggest ethnic group, the Kikuyu. Most of the members of the movement are poverty stricken slum dwellers, who often become psychologically empowered by the doctrine of this movement.

The movement promotes a return to pristine African traditional values and a dissociation from the corrosive influence of western ways and culture.

Members of this movement view Africa as the promised land flowing with milk and honey and are prepared to cut out the hindrances and obstacle established by the former colonial state structure to the reconstruction of a true African personality.

From Maumau to the Mungikis and the Rastafari

The Mungiki movement reminds one of the Rastafari movement on its doctrinal insistence respecting Africa and African values. They both believe that African values and expression are the universal model against which other cultures are to be analyzed. Mungikis pray towards Mountain Kenya the home of the Great God. Rastafari hail Haile Selassie of Ethiopia as the living manifestation of that African God that lives on Mountain Zion somewhere in East Africa. Ancient Mountain Zion could after all turn out to be Mountain Kenya of the modern times.

They both stress social reform, positive thoughts, words and actions, egalitarianism, personal liberation, and a respect for the African divinity whom they acknowledge as the Almighty over other gods and divinities. Both movements have drawn inspiration from the Mau Mau movement of the late 1950s in Kenya.

The Mungikis often wear dreadlocks as a sign of their separation from the western world, as a sign of their totem the lion, and as the outer manifestation of their inner spiritual potency. Rastafari wears its dreadlocks for those same reasons.

Mungikis use the African cannabis as a spiritual sacrament just like Rastas. They get into communication with their inspirational vibration through the sacramental ingestion of African grown herb whereas the most elites of Kenya who profess European based christianity utilize alcohol as their sacrament, as sanctioned by the catholic and the anglican churches.

Due to their emboldened consciousness, the Mungikis just like the Rastas carry themselves with a certain confidence which the ruling elites tend to find haughty and threatening.

Mungikis are accused of witchcraft, demonic oath-taking, and murders just like in the early days of Rastafari in Jamaica.

Just like Rastafari was at first demonized persecuted and pressurized by the Jamaican government who feared their new found independence, confidence and spiritual fulfilment, the Kenyan government fears the Mungiki movement for its liberating philosophy and its Afrocentricism. Kenya government afraid of the rising influence of Mungiki finally outlawed it in 2002.

A brutal crackdown by the police in slums on the outskirts of the capital, Nairobi and central Kenya has netted about 1,000 alleged followers of the Mungiki movement,as well as leaving hundreds dead and many tens of thousands homeless in the past month.

The jailing of John Kamunya can be seen as part and parcel of the drive by the present government of Kenya to suppress the Mungiki movement.

Yet, it appears that the horse has bolted from the stable although the Kenyan government would want to shut the door. Mungiki has gone global. Just as the persecution of Rastafari resulted in its global spread, Mungikis are already in the Americas, in Europe and Asia, carrying on the holy struggle for the emancipation of the African physically and psychologically.

Thus the future of the Mungiki movement appears assured despite brutal persecution. The spiritual fire of these lion warriors of Kenya is now inextinguishable. Mungiki like Rastas will go through this period of humiliation only to re-emerge like the Khemitic Phoenix bird which rises from the ashes of its attempted destruction to take on the crest of the heavens.

Mungiki adherents number in millions in Kenya, and together with the millions of their Rastafari brethrens, this new expression of African independence and solidarity is worth watching carefully in the coming years.

Jide Uwechia


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