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Murang’a: Elders beg trees to accept being trimmed to pave way for road construction

By Njange Maina
Thursday, August 13th, 2020
Kikuyu elders 'request' trees to allow to be trimmed to pave way for road construction
In summary

A council of Kikuyu elders from Kigumo Murang'a county have 'begged' century-old miuu trees to 'accept' being trimmed to pave way for an ongoing road construction.

The trees' canopies had outgrown a site marked for the road and the contractor was hesitant to cut them down hence stalling the construction project of Mugumoini road.

According to the Matura-Nguru age-set of elders, it is a taboo to cut such trees which necessitated a special ceremony to 'plead with the trees'.

One of the elders Kamande Wamugo said the trees used to be 'Ngai's granary' in the early days and cutting them anyhow would have attracted a curse to the community.

"These trees are very old and were 'Ngai's granary' meaning that people would place food harvests at the base of the trees for any passerby and the needy to have something to eat(sic)," said Kamande Wamugo on Wednesday.

The elders said the trees are very symbolic as they were also used to 'cleanse' the community after a war with other communities. They said the young men coming from war would leave their weapons at the base of the trees to avoid contaminating the rest of the community with blood.

Another elder George Kireru said it was a secret what they told Ngai(God) about the trees while pleading with them.

"It is a secret what exactly we told Ngai today but we have been praying to him for many days," said elder Kireru.

Seeing that their Ngomi (ancestors) were using the trees for other cultural purposes, the elders said cutting the trees without permission would anger the Ngomi.

After the trees 'agreed' to be trimmed, the elders cleansed the machines and the construction workers and took the cut branches to Kahungu forest.

The elders said the branches were not fit to be used as firewood and doing so was a taboo. Another ceremony to burn the wood is underway.

What we did is called 'horohio'. We were requesting our ngomi to give us the power to cut the trees," added Wamugo.

According to the area chief Muiruri Wanjihi, three men died in the year 2000 after splitting one of the miuu trees that had fallen.

"About 20 years ago, three men died in one week after using the trees for firewood. The tree had fallen and the three men thought they could use it for firewood. Within one week, all the three men had died," said Chief Muiruri.

Chief Muiruri said only people who are over 100 years old are allowed to use the trees for firewood.

To conduct the ceremony, the elders said they had fasted for 21 days to ensure it was acceptable.