By Cecy Gaitho, Kikuyu, Kenya
The land of Gikuyu and Mumbi is blessed with an abundance of food. Mwene Nyaga is said to have met His people at the great Mt. Kenya which lies in the beautiful land of Kirinyaga. It is here where elders would offer sacrifices to appease Him when a calamity befell the land, or when the rains took too long to fall.
To date, Mt.Kenya is known as the sitting place of God. Some few modern-day elders still go there yearly to try and salvage what has been left in the wake of colonization and westernization, which deemed Mwene Nyaga as a false god.
It began long ago.
Gikuyu and Mumbi are said to have been placed at the foot of this mountain, where they were blessed with their nine daughters. Mwene Nyaga so loved them, that He blessed even their later generations.
Rware village was known as the heart of Gikuyuland. It lay some few kilometres away from the feet of Mt. Kenya. Its elder Muthee Gakure was said to have great powers to foresee the future. He was from the lineage of Mugo wa Kibiru whose legacy lives on, for his prophecy about the coming of the white men.
Muthee Gakure was born with a mbugu (paraphernalia) in his right hand, which automatically made him a mundu mugo (Medicine man). He was revered for his closeness with Mwene Nyaga, and his ability to cleanse people whose iniquities would cause them death or severe consequences would befall their families.
Except for the occasional mischief by young men and women, Rware village was largely peaceful, and people helped their neighbors in times of need. There were communal duties where everyone was expected to participate. Towards the end, there would be great feasting, which Gakure would close by chanting, “Gikuyu kiroruma nyambo”, which translates to “May the bonds of Gikuyu land continue to strengthen.”
All the people would face Mt. Kenya, bow their faces and thank the Creator for the abundance of His blessings.
“Thaai, thathaiya Ngai Thaai.”
While prayers were an essential part of the Gikuyu culture, they would gather to pray for kimera (harvest), birth, circumcision, marriage and burial rituals, as each stage of human life was regarded with the utmost respect. This trend was followed from generation to generation until the moment calamity struck.
The morning dawned like any other. Rware had enjoyed a bumper harvest and all the people had filled their makumbi (granaries) to the brim. In the coming week, it would be full moon when the community would hold their Kimera thanksgiving prayers. This was a harvest like no other. Maize had produced in twos and threes, while the banana stalks hung so low with plenty of produce. The pumpkins in their mellow yellow sprung in bloom so that families had plenty to eat and to store. The Thanksgiving would surely be one to reckon.
Usually, the Thanksgiving preparations would begin early. Women were tasked with the preparation of food and fetching water, while the men slaughtered goats, chicken and the fattened bulls that were reserved specifically for these festivities. In Muthee Gakure’s cowshed, a large white bull was set aside, which would be offered as a sacrifice as it was the norm. After Thanksgiving, heavy rains would fall to show that Mwene Nyaga was pleased with the sacrifice. Rain was the deal sealer that announced that their sacrifice was acceptable before the Creator.
The day started well; the sun shone brightly up the sky, promising a good day. Thanksgiving was usually welcomed with song and joy, which showed on everyone’s faces. Children formed circles as they sang some traditional folksongs. Young men were tasked with helping out in various duties while young women sat with the older women in the kitchen getting marital advice.
The sacrificial bull would be slaughtered last after the people had eaten to their fill. Before the sacrifice, Muthee Gakure would sit at a distance from the large crowds, and people speculated that he invoked the spirit of his grandfather Gakere, who would offer guidance.
They struck at that moment.
The white people that Mugo wa Kibiru had talked about had finally made their way to Rware village. Everybody was scared as they ran to the shelter of their houses. The older men stood with their machetes, ready to attack if they needed to. Their language was incoherent, and their devilish faces brought fear to the whole land. The worst was yet to come.
Muthee Gakure sat with his face to the ground. The white men had scattered the peace of his people. Such an action had never been witnessed in the Gikuyu land.
They led the sacrificial bull away amid the pleas from the elders. Such an action was a defilement upon Gikuyu land and had never been witnessed before. Muthee Gakure knew that a curse was definitely going to befall his people. no amount of appeasing was going to succeed.
That evening, as the men scattered to their homes, too stunned to speak, it dawned on them that Mugo wa Kibiru was right. The curse of Rware village had taken root, which would affect generations to come.
That night, Muthee Gakure left his home in the middle of the night. Nobody knew where he went, until months later when he came back accompanied by the white men. He spoke their language!
“The government of Nyakeru has appointed me to become their representative here in Rware.” He began his speech.
“As such, you are all going to call me Chief Gakure or simply cibu!”
“This is betrayal.” The village people whispered among themselves.
How could anyone believe that Muthee Gakure could easily jump ship?
Rware lost its trust and respect for its elders. The land became unruly and cibu Gakure became the talk of the village. The village started witnessing weird happenings.
Gikama, Gakure’s youngest son was caught ‘in the act’ with his neighbor’s goat. Two weeks later, Waitherero killed her six children by drowning them into the nearby river. A newcomer in the village started brewing chang’aa that killed several young men.
After the curse of Rware, Gikuyu land would never be the same.