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THE FORESEER OF KENYAN COLONIZATION: MUGO WA KIBIRU

Mugo wa Kibiru. Source: YouTube (Nash Narrates)

Mugo wa Kibiru was a Kenyan sage from the Gikuyu tribe born in Kiriara Murang’a in the 18th Century. Mugo means a healer in the Kikuyu language. According to Kikuyu folklore, Mugo wa Kibiru was found alone in the forest by Kibiru, who was a hunter as he inspected his traps. When Kibiru asked him what he was doing, Cege responded by saying that he had been with Ngai (God). Kibiru was a hunter from the Anjiru clan which was associated with prophecy and powerful medicine. Kibiru adopted Cege, changed his name to Mugo wa Kibiru and gave him to his eldest wife. This adoption was ritualized by performing necessary purification and rites of adoption. In his young age, before he was circumcised, he looked after his father’s goats with other boys in the community. While grazing, he often left the other boys and went to the forest. He possessed the power to control animals and they didn’t harm him. He grew to become a great Gikuyu healer and prophet.

Mugo wa Kibiru. Source: Nairaland forum

His Prophecies

Mugo wa Kibiru prophesied the coming of the white man and the Kenya-Uganda Railway among other prophecies:

He prophesied there will be a people from the east whose skin complexion would resemble a small pale colored frog that lives in water (Kiengere) and would be able to see their blood flowing under their skins just like the frog. they will wear colorful clothes like butterflies (Ciihuruta). they would carry magical sticks that would produce fire (guns firing bullets) and it will be foolish for the warriors to confront them with their swords. They would carry fire in their pockets (matchboxes).

The Ciengere would build an iron snake from the sea of Rukanga, Iria ria Cumbi (Indian Ocean), to the sea of Sparrow, Iria ria Ihii (Lake Victoria) which will not be possible to cut with spears and machetes. A living snake with a bushy head, Kihinga, bellowing smoke will ride on top of the sleeping snake and will swallow the Ciengere and spit them when it stops. Shortly after this, there will be a big famine and pestilence that will nearly finish the people.

Construction of the Kenya Uganda Railway. Source: The National Archives.

Children will be born without ears but holes only. They will abandon the tribal ways, showing no respect to their elders and parents. they will wear bells (Mbugi) in their ears and will not listen or hearken to tribal teachings (Kirira). They will have no fear of committing abominable acts (Migiro).

There will be waganu (Adultery and promiscuity), theft and petty crime filling the whole land. The Gikuyu people will not heed the leadership and warnings of the Anjiru clan, instead will follow the Aicakamuyu. Cooked food which was not sold according to kikuyu customs, will be sold on roadsides and markets all over the land.

The ciengere will farm and graze their cattle in the Maasai plains. Lake Naivasha will be planted with sugarcane and bananas by the Gikuyu people. The great forest of Mbage will one day join with the great one of Kiriti and will become one.

Until the great Thingira wa Iregi (Ruling Council hut) shall be built in Githunguri Kia Wairera and inaugurated with the necessary ceremonies and purification rites, the Country will never be free of the ills brought by the Ciengere neither benefit from the good brought by them.

Colonization would last 68 years which will end once the giant fig tree located in Thika withers and dies, and Kenya would gain independence.

His prophecies scared even the white man. They reinforced the fig tree with a mould of earth then built an iron ring around it to prevent it from falling. However, this didn’t prevent the prophecy from k=coming true. Shortly before Kenya gained independence, the fig tree was struck by lightning and began to wither. On 20th October 1952 when Kenyatta was arrested, the first branch fell. in 1962 before the release of Kapenguria six, the second branch fell. On 1st June 1963, the last part of the tree fell when Kenya gained self-internal government and the date named as Madaraka Day. By the time Kenya officially gained independence on 12th December 1993, the tree had decayed and died.

Mugumo tree. Source: Nairaland.com
The enhanced mugumo tree by the white man. Source: YouTube (The lost Classics)

On 16th November 1969, the first president of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta planted another mugumo where the initial one fell. The place is now called Mugumo Gardens a historical site in Thika.

The replanted Mugumo tree by Jomo Kenyatta. Source: Explore254.com

References

  1. Land of the famed seer Mugo wa Kibiru- Daily Nation
  2. The Diaspora Times: History & His Story: Mugo wa Kibiru

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