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Mungiki is an outlawed, quasi-political/religious cult in Kenya. It is, in fact, both a destructive cult and a criminal gang.
They pray as they face Mount Kenya, which they believe to be the home of their God, known as Ngai.
And their name means “a united people”.
But Kenya’s Mungiki followers are no ordinary believers.
Their holy communion is tobacco-sniffing, their hairstyle that of the Mau Mau dreadlocks and the origin of the sect is still shrouded in mystery.
Since the late 1990s, the sect has left behind a trail of blood in its rejection of the trappings of Western culture.
– Source: Profile: Kenya’s secretive Mungiki sect, BBC, Feb. 11, 2003
The Mungiki gang is known for, among other things:
- Murder and other acts of violence
- Murder of defectors and opponents
- Forcibly imposing female circumcision
- Stripping women wearing miniskirts and trousers in public
- Raiding police stations to free their own members who were under police custody.
- Extortion of money from Matatu (public commuter vehicles) drivers
The formation of Mungiki sect remains a mystery to many Kenyans. There have been contradicting statements.
Some reports say the group possibly started in 1988 with the aim of toppling the government of immediate former president of Kenya, Daniel Torotich arap Moi.
Those who share this thinking believe the group was an offshoot of Mwakenya, an underground movement formed in 1979 to challenge the Kenya African National Union (KANU) regime.
Other reports indicate that Mungiki was founded in 1987 by some young schoolboys.
The activities of the sect, however, came into the limelight in late 1990s, when reports started flowing in of groups of suspicious looking youths, many donning dreadlocks, being seen taking unusual oaths, and engaging in strange prayers.
Confronted by authorities, their swift defence would be that theirs was a group of traditionalists interested only in re-introducing and promoting traditional way of life among the Kikuyu ethnic group. They posed as a traditional religious group, but an unusual one because taking snuff during worship was their trademark.
But their hardline stand against Western idiologies put them on a collision course with the police. They started stripping naked in public, ladies wearing miniskirts and long trousers, and violently promoted female cut [Female circumcision – AI] .
They would engage police in fierce running battles, and on a number of occasions, violently raided police stations to ‘free arrested members’.
Their violent activities intensified. They systematically and forcefully began taking over management of commuter service vehicles, popularly known as Matatu.
In March last year, they clashed with a vigilante group in Nairobi, and later unleashed terror on residents of a slum area, killing 23 people and injuring several others. This prompted the government to outlaw their grouping. They however, continued to exist, and even more openly propagated their warlike activities.
– Source: Mungiki: A Mysterious Sect, a Thorn in the Flesh, African Church Information Service, Feb. 3, 2003