Elders hold ritual to allow cutting of Mugumo tree
by Seth Mwaniki
Kikuyu elders yesterday conducted a cleansing ceremony on a Mugumo tree along Kenol-Nyeri dual carriage way, at Mathaithi village, Nyeri County to pave way for its felling by a Chinese road contractor.
Led by high priest Mathenge Wanderi, the elders slaughtered a white ram and burnt it into ashes after conducting prayers to appease ‘Mwene Nyaga,’ in reference to god by the members of the Kikuyu community.
The tree which has been at the site for many years, could not be cut by the contractor of the road project, as it is regarded as sacred due to the fact that prayers and other rituals had been conducted there in the past.
According to Wanderi, it will be a taboo to cut down the tree without a cleansing ceremony.
“What we have done today is known in our culture as “Ngoima ya Njino” which we offer to appease our god, before destroying any shrine, thus it would have been a taboo if they cut this tree without this ceremony “ said Wanderi.
However not all Mugumo trees are regarded as sacred by the community .
During the ceremony, the high priest and other elders who are revered, sprinkled concoction of special herb mixed with traditional brew locally known as Muratinaand slaughtered the ram regarded as pure, to appease god and departed elders.
“When we are conducting this ceremony we must ensure the entire ram is burnt to ashes and no one can feed on it since it’s meant for our god,” Wanderi said.
The two hour ceremony attracted hundreds of onlookers curious to know what was going on, with most of them taking pictures of the ritual.
After the ceremony, Wanderi declared the road clean from any accident that would have been caused, if it was cut before such ceremony.
In November 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta decreed that a Mugumo tree at heart of Nairobi be spared. Uhuru spared the ‘Mugumo’, as part of the nation’s national heritage. The tree had been marked for cutting down to make way for a highway to ease congestion in the city, but environmentalists and tree lovers protested.
It was then due to be uprooted and later transplanted to a safer environment, but the public outcry continued until the President issued a decree that it be spared.