More killings feared as Kibaki vows new Mungiki war

President Mwai Kibaki has vowed to crack down on the Mungiki sect even as torture and disappearances undermine ongoing government efforts of eradicating the sect.

The President is enraged by the killings of at least 10 people in his parliamentary constituency. The dead are believed to have been executed by Mungiki adherents, who are known for demanding protection fees from retail business, land owners and transport operators across Central Kenya, Nairobi and parts of the Rift Valley.

Since June 2007, at least 600 youths have been killed for alleged involvement with Mungiki. Scores of others have simply vanished after they were arrested.

Survivors and civil society accuse the Kenya Police for the deaths and disappearances, a claim the police Commissioner has denied several times. However, former internal security minister, John Michuki, was quoted last year saying that funerals of Mungiki youth would become a common occurence.

Mungiki is an underground movement among the Kikuyu ethnic group, drawing its membership from youths in squatter settlements and urban slums. The group advocates a return to Kikuyu traditional customs saying that modernity has failed to ease human suffering.

Mungiki leader, Maina Njenga, is serving a jail sentence for drugs and weapons possession but the sect describes the charges as a fabrication meant to curtail its activities.

Njenga began Mungiki in the mid 1980s in the Rift Valley province. His movement grew in numbers in the 1990s following clashes inflicted on the Kikuyu by forces loyal to President Daniel arap Moi.

The 1990s were a period of rapid economic liberalization in Kenya coupled with globalization, resulting in massive unemployment coupled with the loss of societal values. Rising crime and crumbling state authority added to the difficulties.

Within the shanties of the Kikuyu homeland and the capital city Nairobi, Mungiki restored order and provided basic social services in exchange for protection fees by households and businesses. By the early 2000s, Mungiki membership was estimated at over 1 million.

Since then, the Kenyan government has worried over the motives of Mungiki and sees the sect as a threat. Sections of the government are convinced that Mungiki’s goal is to capture power through its political wing, the Kenya National Youth Alliance.

Mungiki is not a movement of angels either. Dozens of people have been killed by the sect for either exposing the group’s secrets or refusing to pay protection fees. Mungiki does not allow revocation of membership and recruitment procedures are rather nasty.

Whereas President Moi kept the group in check through negotiation, his successor President Mwai Kibaki has pursued a hardline stance. Ironically, Kibaki is also a Kikuyu whereas Moi was not.

Being a phenomenon of the underclass, Mungiki does not enjoy the complete loyalty of the Kikuyu. Majority of upper and middle class Kikuyu support Kibaki’s crackdown against Mungiki, leading many social commentators to draw similarities with the Mau Mau war of the 1950s. Like Mungiki, Mau Mau drew its membership from the poor whereas the educated Kikuyu working for the colonial government opposed it.

Incidentally, John Michuki, the man who predicted Mungiki funerals in 2007 worked as a colonial administrator in the 1950s where he was tough against Mau Mau. Its worth noting that Mungiki draws its inspiration from the Mau Mau rebellion.

The rest of Kenya’s ethnic groups fear Mungiki and support the government’s campaign despite the violations of human rights. With Mungiki’s membership being exclusively Kikuyu, the rest of Kenya’s tribes see the group as an ethnic militia championing Kikuyu interests.

Consequently, there has been little condemnation of the government from the rest of the population. However, this apathy may change as the Kenyan government spreads its tactics to other parts of Kenya.

Security operations in Mount Elgon and the Somali border have been marred by similar allegations of torture, death and disappearances. It may seem as though the Kenyan government is adopting tactics last seen in Latin America back in the 1970s.

Perhaps, Kenyan leaders and security chiefs should familiarize themselves with ongoing legal procedures in Latin America. More than 30 years after the era of leftist groups and right wing paramilitaries (usually backed by military governments), trials are currently underway for those responsible for the disappearances.

Maina Kageni wins public approval

Maina Kageni. Picture by Pulse Magazine.

Maina Kageni. Picture by Pulse Magazine.

In June this year, the Nairobi Chronicle published an article titled, “Maina Kageni talkshow on dangerous grounds.” The article raised serious concerns about Maina Kageni’s morning talk show on Classic 105 FM.

Since then, we have continued to receive feedback from people who have listened to the show. Surprisingly, the vast majority of you actually approve of Maina Kageni’s no-holds barred approach to taboo topics.

Below, we present a sample of your opinions.
1. shadrack, on June 26th, 2008 at 11:31 am said:
much as there should be media freedom the presenters perticularly in FM stations should really watch on what they give out to the public as some of these things are so much of trash!

2. jose, on June 26th, 2008 at 11:34 am Said:
This is all bullshit by these FM statios!

3. carol, on June 26th, 2008 at 11:39 am Said:
I wish these presenters could be using that time to talk on better things rather than talking so much trash all just on sex!

4. susan, on July 29th, 2008 at 10:09 am Said:
hi i am concern with what is said on national radio. especially kingangi be carefull what you say. you are such a pervert. i pity your mate.
susan

5. Ngumo, on August 28th, 2008 at 10:46 am Said:
Maina and King’ang’i need a hi5 clap for job well done. Wekeni wasee kwa mataa kabisa, also they do help us to know how life is there outside

6. maureen, on September 4th, 2008 at 11:57 am Said:
hey, welling guys! those talking shit about maina and king’angi are leaving in denial! this are things that happen in real life.thank you very much guys for letting it out to the public.

7. skitter, on September 10th, 2008 at 11:23 am Said:
some of the comments are outright un called for and I think that some of these should reserve/ ama what we would like to say keep them to your selves anyway the dude with his childs fantasy is sick and as such he was destined for mathare and should be admitted there by the first person who spots him. anyway the show just Rocks!!!!!!!

8. eric, on September 19th, 2008 at 11:28 am Said:
maina could make a good and a charismatic presenter if not on emphasizing on sexual matters that portray a morally rotten society. anyway he does drive many crazy . Morale.

9. pascarl, on September 29th, 2008 at 1:26 am Said:
ua show guys leaves me very happy coz those r things which people are undergoing. but i will not marry because if ua topics is what 2 go by then marrying is creating problems as u usually say moving from confused life to complicated.otherwise wish u well guys n be going to church.

10. pascarl, on September 29th, 2008 at 1:29 am Said:
maina i nid ua capital talk clip with jeff koinange. tell me au will i get or send me through my mail. usipoinitumia nitawanyonga na uji asubuhi.

11. Peter Njenga, on October 6th, 2008 at 1:46 pm Said:
I watched Maina on Jeff Koinange’s Capital Talk. Have a look at http://www.peternjenga.com/2008/10/capital-talk-on-k24-with-jeff-koinange.html and also http://www.peternjenga.com/2008/09/maina-kageni-on-k24-capital-talk-with.html
Very interesting.

12. muriithi, on October 8th, 2008 at 1:36 pm Said:
Maina,mambo vipi pass my high five to mwalimu and you guys you are great lakini,do you act this way in you homes? Maina,am having an issue can you please call and lets chat i will pay or sambaza.
Tel.0721908843
Stephen,
Thanks.

13. carol, on October 22nd, 2008 at 1:25 pm Said:
hi maina. ua show rocks!!! even my grandma loves listening to you manze. its one of its kinds. keep it up en God give you strength . Thumps up form Mwalimu Kingangi too.

14. Abdul, on October 27th, 2008 at 5:06 pm Said:
hi5!!! you guys r doing a great job.

15. Liz, on October 31st, 2008 at 9:53 am Said:
Maina’s show is hot, can’t deny that for sure, but the truth is, these are words coming out of Kenyans mouths. It’s not Maina or King’ang’i putting words in these pples mouths. This is a reality and as harsh and hard as it may seem, it still is. Shutting pple up won’t change a thing. Let them say what is in their hearts whether you perceive it to be rotten or not. Then a solution to our societal problems can be easily found. Come on people, let this Maina boy do his thing!

16. Faith, on November 10th, 2008 at 12:45 pm Said:
Hi5 Maish and Mwalimu you guys are great i really like your show. Those who are saying that they cross the cultural boundaries they are hypocrates who pretend not to know what is happening. We are in the 21st century and sex is no longer a taboo “that it cannot be discussed” By the way those who think the discussions on classic 105 are explicit is it that their radio’s doesn’t have the on and off button and just to let them know in case they are not updated we have kinda 50FM radio stations hope they know how to tune their radios let them listen to other radio stations and let Maina and Mwalimu continue educating us on what is actually happening. KUDOS MAINA AND MWALIMU GREAT JOB YOU DOING THERE KEEP UP THE SPIRIT. Let no intimadation from the 20th century generation who still live in darkness pull you down.

Police death squads exposed in Mungiki war

A government human rights body has implicated Kenyan police in the abduction, torture and execution of at least 500 young men. Scores of others arrested from their homes cannot be found.

In its report, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights says that top political leaders working with police commanders were aware of the death squads. Last year, Cabinet minister John Michuki, predicted that there would be “many funerals” of Mungiki members.

The report further accuses police officers of kidnapping, torture and extortion on the pretext of anti-Mungiki operations. For the unfortunate victims, payment of a ransom was no security against death. The commission has documented cases where individuals were hunted down and killed after paying ransom.

Mungiki, popular with disillusioned youth from the Kikuyu ethnic group, is calling for a return to traditional African spirituality. It despises Christianity as a colonial religion. In the teeming slums of Kenya’s cities and in rural squatter settlements, Mungiki has grown by providing casual jobs, protection, housing and other social services.

The Mungiki are calling for a generational change in Kenya to pave way for youthful leadership. According to Mungiki, Kenya’s current leaders are remnants of, “colonial home-guards.”

Since its beginnings in the 1980s, the group’s membership has grown to the lower millions. It has become a formidable political and quasi-militia force that has drawn the wrath of State security machinery. Kenya’s government declared war against the group in mid 2007.

The Kenya Police force, however, faces little condemnation for its actions. The ethnic affiliation of Mungiki has spawned fear of Kikuyu nationalism in the rest of Kenya’s tribes, especially after political and ethnic clashes earlier this year. Consequently, there has been no criticism of police tactics against Mungiki.

Mungiki’s leader and founder, Maina Njenga, is serving a five year jail term on weapons and drug possession charges. Mr Njenga says police falsified the charges against him. After his arrest, the state turned Mr Njenga’s mansion in Kitengela into a, “police station.” Kenyan police rarely confiscate property from criminal suspects.

Earlier this year, Njenga’s wife, Virginia Nyakio, was abducted, raped and beheaded by persons believed to be working for the state. Within a few days, two top officials of the Kenya National Youth Alliance – Mungiki’s party – were gunned down by unidentified people along the Nairobi – Naivasha highway. The two were on their way to see Mr Njenga in prison. One of the dead was a brother to Virginia Nyakio’s driver. According to eye-witnesses, the gunmen in the daylight shooting first identified themselves as police.

Mr Njenga has vowed not to allow the funeral of his murdered wife until the government drops all charges against him. Her body has been lying in a morgue ever since.

In April, Mungiki engaged riot police in national demonstrations to protest constant killings. Railway lines were uprooted and national highways blocked. The violence ended when Prime Minister Raila Odinga offered to negotiate with them. Police withdrew from Maina Njenga’s mansion in an apparent goodwill gesture from the government. Television footage showed the building suffering from extreme vandalism. Apparently police officers lit cooking fires on the living room floor.

The report by the Kenya National Human Rights Commission accused police of using unmarked vehicles to abduct Mungiki youth, most of whose bodies have been found in woodlands outside the capital city. Police deny they are involved in the killings. However, in parts of Central Province and in the slums of Nairobi, young men live in fear of abduction.

Public opinion in Kenya is split between those calling for dialogue with Mungiki and those insisting on tough measures. Majority of Kenyans associate Mungiki with extortion, crime and murder.

Numerous scholars and journalists have attempted to analyze Mungiki. The explanations of the Mungiki phenomenon are as varied as the number of papers and press articles about the group.

However, all agree that the Mungiki is a product of a dysfunctional society and without a change in the way Kenya is governed, Mungiki is likely to become a much bigger and dangerous phenomenon.

Police killings continue in Mungiki war

As Kenya’s police maintain a policy of targeted assassinations in its war against Mungiki, the mutilated bodies of abducted victims continue to be uncovered in forests and morgues around Nairobi.

According to the Daily Nation, a bus driver whose arrest was filmed by the paper’s staff has been found dead. Mr Peter Maina Wachira was found strangled alongside his tout Peter Mwangi less than 24 hours after they were arrested at the Muthurwa bus terminus in Nairobi.

Records at Nairobi’s City Mortuary show the two bodies were delivered in a police vehicle and booked as those of, “unknown persons.” Further investigations by the Daily Nation led reporters to a settlement near Ngong town. Apparently, the bodies were found by children as they walked to school one morning.

The police admit arresting the two men but deny involvement in their deaths. Polices spokesman, Eric Kiraithe, said relatives of the men could institute an inquest by making a formal request to the police.

According to human rights organizations, close to 1,000 young men have been tortured, killed and dumped in bushes by the Kenya Police for alleged involvement with the Mungiki sect. Police say the use of force is justified because they are fighting an illegal, criminal organization.

The Mungiki, popular with disillusioned young people from the Kikuyu ethnic group, calls for a return to traditional African culture. It despises Christianity as a colonial religion. In the slums of Kenya’s cities and in rural squatter settlements, Mungiki has grown by providing casual jobs, protection, housing and other social services. Since it began in the mid 1980s, the group’s membership is now estimated at the lower millions. It has become a formidable political and quasi-militia force that has drawn the wrath of the State security machinery.

Kenya’s government declared war against the group in mid 2007. Since then, dozens of police and government administrators have been killed by suspected Mungiki. On its part, the Kenyan police have been accused of abducting and killing thousands of youths. Many other young people have simply been made to disappear.

The Kenya Police force, however, faces little condemnation for its actions. Because Mungiki is largely drawn from the Kikuyu ethnic group, inter-ethnic rivalry in Kenya means that the rest of Kenya has no sympathy for the suffering of Kikuyu youth.

Mungiki’s leader, Maina Njenga, is serving a five year jail term on weapons and drugs charges. Mr Maina says the police falsified the charges against him. Earlier this year, his wife, Virginia Nyakio, was abducted, raped and beheaded by persons believed to be working for the security services. Mr Njenga has vowed not to allow the funeral of his murdered wife until the government drops all charges against him.

Maina Kageni talkshow on dangerous grounds

A radio show where men express erotic feelings for children may force the Kenyan government to crack the whip on explicit call-in sessions.

Maina Kageni. Picture by Pulse Magazine.

Maina Kageni. Picture by Pulse Magazine.

For some years, Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has expressed concern over the proliferation of “pornographic” talk shows aired at inappropriate time slots. In spite of this, the government is wary of being criticized for infringing on media rights.

However, a popular radio talk show may have gone beyond the bounds of entertainment. Maina Kageni’s weekday morning show on Classic 105 attracts big ratings because of its no-holds-barred content. Recently, a male caller confided on air of fantasies involving his own children. Many radio listeners were outraged that the sentiments were allowed over the airwaves.

Child sex abuse is becoming a grave problem in Kenya with parents identified as major culprits.

Kageni’s talk show targets the over 25 age group. Callers are encourage to discuss sexual problems such as cheating or impotence. Kageni and his side-kick Mwalimu King’ang’i have also brought out such weird sexual behavior as wife/husband swapping, sex in church among others.

Government reaction towards Maina Kageni and Classic 105 has remained muted so far. However, outrage among members of the public my force some sort of curbs on the content that is discussed in the media.

In 2007, there was a Kenya Communications Act that aimed at regulating the airing of appropriate, “culturally-sensitive” content but the bill was condemned by Kenya’s media industry as a threat to press freedom.

Mungiki funerals blocked by police

Weeks after they were killed, three prominent Mungiki members are yet to be buried as their families decry constant police harassment.

And yesterday, hundreds of heavily armed police raided the Kitengela home of Mungiki’s jailed leader, apparently to block relatives from preparing the funeral of his murdered wife.

Virginia Nyakio, wife to Mungiki leader, Maina Njenga, and her driver were abducted in Nairobi. Their badly mutilated bodies were found in the Aberdare forest. Within a few days, two top officials of the Kenya National Youth Alliance – Mungiki’s party – were gunned down by unidentified people along the Nairobi – Naivasha highway. The two were on their way to see Mr Njenga in prison. One of the dead was a brother to Virginia Nyakio’s driver. According to eye-witnesses, the gunmen in the daylight shooting identified themselves as police. On their part, Kenya’s police commissioner says his force does not participate in criminal activities.

Following the murder of his wife, Mr Njenga vowed to bury her at the Kitengela grounds. Her body is still lying at a funeral home. What makes the saga intriguing is that after his arrest, the state turned Mr Njenga’s mansion into a, “police station.” In April, Mungiki engaged police in national demonstrations to protest the killings. The violent clashes ended when Prime Minister Raila Odinga offered to negotiate with them. Since then, police withdrew from the mansion in an apparent goodwill gesture from the government.

However, the breaking up of yesterday’s funeral preparations may harm the government’s negotiations with Mungiki, setting the stage for further confrontations.

The other two men have not been buried either as constant police raids at their homes frustrate funeral arrangements. Neighbours are scared of being associated with Mungiki, according to a report in the Daily Nation.

Mr Njenga, is doing time at the Naivasha Maximum Prison for weapons and marijuana possession. His followers say the charges were fabricated by the Kenyan government to thwart Mungiki’s political ambitions as expressed through the Kenya National Youth Alliance (KNYA).

The Mungiki and the KNYA are calling for a generational change in Kenya to pave way for youthful leadership. According to Mungiki, Kenya’s current leaders are remnants of, “colonial home-guards.”

The Mungiki has called for a return to traditional African values, and is popular with disillusioned youth mostly from the Kikuyu ethnic group. However, the ethnic affiliation of Mungiki has spawned fear in the rest of Kenya’s tribes, especially after political and ethnic clashes earlier this year. Because of this, there has been muted condemnation of police tactics against Mungiki.

Mungiki making news in Kenya

The Mungiki phenomenon will continue to influence Kenya’s politics and social life if daily media headlines are any indicators.

Hardly a day goes by without some major news event concerning the Mungiki. This week, it has emerged that the Kenya Police have finally left a mansion in Kitengela built by the Mungiki. The police had converted the house into a “police station” after arresting Mungiki leader, Maina Njenga in the premises several years ago.

In Kenya, the police rarely confiscate property in such a manner. Indeed, the action was among the major grievances that drove the Mungiki into nationwide protests in April this year. By returning the ownership of the building to the Mungiki, the government may be signaling a softening in its stance towards the group. Television footage shows the building suffering from extreme vandalism. Apparently police officers lit cooking fires in the expansive living room.

In the past one week, political leaders from the Central Province have called for negotiations with Mungiki and the release of Mr Njenga. Mr Njenga is in jail for possession of firearms and marijuana. His followers say the charges are false.

On his appointment in April, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said he was willing to begin negotiations with Mungiki. However, Internal security minister, Prof George Saitoti, has said the government will not talk to Mungiki. This followed criticism of proposed Mungiki talks by politicians from Kalenjin dominated areas following the arrest of youths linked to ethnic clashes earlier this year. The Kalenjin politicians argue that were the government to talk with Mungiki, then Kalenjin militia should get amnesty from prosecution.

The military operation against the Sabaot Land Defense Force in Mt Elgon may be influenced by the manner in which the government handles the Mungiki issue. Critics of the military campaign are concerned over the apparent double standards in dealing with militia groups.

Mungiki say they have also borne the brunt of state security forces. Hundreds of bodies of suspected Mungiki members have been found in morgues and forests on the outskirts of Nairobi in the past year. Police deny they are involved in the killings. However, in parts of Central Province and in the slums of Nairobi, young men live in fear of the police.

There have been numerous feature articles in local and international press all attempting to analyze the Mungiki. The explanations of the Mungiki phenomenon are as varied as the number of articles about the group. However, all agree that the Mungiki is a product of a dysfunctional society and without a change in the way Kenya is governed, the Mungiki is likely to become a much bigger and potent force.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 137 other followers