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Speaker Justin Muturi put in ten days cleansing ritual ahead of coronation

By Josphat Thiong'o | May 19th 2021
Speaker, Justin Muturi with a section of Elders from Murang’a County during a cleansing ceremony at a secret location on Wednesday, 19 May, 2021. The process is an initiation by the Elders to make The Speaker a Kikuyu Spokesperson for future political engagements. [Samson Wire, Standard]

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has thrown himself into the ring of Mt Kenya succession politics by taking up the mantle of the region's spokesperson ahead of an elaborate crowning ceremony this weekend.

Muturi is currently observing a ten-day cleansing ritual where he has secluded himself at his Gigiri residence in Nairobi and observing set protocols issued by Kikuyu elders ahead of his Saturday ceremony.

The speaker said he was aptly prepared for the task ahead and will rely on the guidance of elders as the region’s spokesman. “I am ready for the task ahead and for the advice that will be given by the elders. I am ready to carry on with whatever responsibilities that the elders will bestow on me on behalf of the region,” said Muturi.

He added, “I will use the experience that I have gathered in Parliament to lead the region. Leading the various groups in Parliament is not easy but I have been doing it. I am aware that the task ahead of me as a spokesperson of Mt Kenya is not easy but being a leader is not new to me."

Speaking on his experience for the past eight days in seclusion, he said he had taken time to self reflect and would embark on visits to the nearby Nairobi River to ponder on issues that affect the country and Mt Kenya region.

During this cleansing period, the Speaker cannot leave his house or see a woman and is on a special diet for the duration.

He is allowed to only meet certain people – elders who are cleansed - for the period. Men who can sire children are also barred from meeting the Speaker.

The event to be conducted by the over 1,000 elders drawn from all Kikuyu counties has strict ritual procedures that have to be adhered to by the person to be made the community spokesman. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Muturi will be crowned in an elaborate ceremony at the historic Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga shrine in Gaturi, Murang'a County.

Elders from the Meru’s Njuri Ncheke Council, Embu’s Nyaangi Ndiriri and Ngome - from Muturi’s Mbeere backyard - are expected at the ceremony.

The ten-day seclusion, which culminates in the Saturday crowning, is part of the preparations in line with the Agikuyu traditions.

Murangá Elders Association Secretary General Samuel Ruru said more than 6,0000 elders from across the country would grace Saturday’s event.

“As Muranga elders, we are fully behind the ceremony. We are making Muturi the region's spokesperson so that anyone seeking to negotiate with the Mt Kenya region should go through him,” said Ruru.

He also refuted claims of disquiet over the choice of Muturi as the region’s leader, saying all Mt Kenya elders were in agreement.

“The crowning of Muturi started in Embu then went to the Njuri Njeke and it has now come to us. This means that both the East and West Mt Kenya regions are united in this decision,” he said.

The process is an initiation by the Elders to make Justin Muturi a Kikuyu Spokesperson for future political engagements. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Association chairman Kiarie Warugami said during the seclusion period, a different set of elders was visiting Muturi to ensure he complied to the set protocols.

“He has followed them well and that is why you see that he even missed the major event of the approval of Martha Koome as the Chief Justice, so he can honour his traditions,” he said.

Peter Kagwanja, the patron of the Murang’a elders, said this was the first time that a leader from Mt Kenya was going to be crowned at the sacred Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga shrine and that the cleansing was to allow the Speaker to step into the shrine.

“The bestowing of other regional leaders such as President Uhuru Kenyatta and retired president Mwai Kibaki were done but outside the shrine and Muturi will be the first leader from our community to go do it at the shrine,” said Kagwanja.

National Assembly Speaker, Justin Muturi, with a section of Elders from Murang’a County leaving a secret shrine near a river bank during a cleansing ceremony on Wednesday, 19 May, 2021. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Probed on whether Saturday’s event had the blessing of President Kenyatta, he said the ceremony did not need his consent to continue. He also said Saturday’s event would be more cultural than political - much as it has political undertones.

The Saturday crowning comes nearly three months after the Speaker was made spokesperson for Mt Kenya East.

He was crowned in an elaborate cultural extravaganza conducted by the Njuri Ncheke at their Nchiru Shrine in Meru. Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya graced the event attended by hundreds of elders.

The current happenings have positioned Muturi as a front runner in succeeding President Uhuru Kenyatta in the region.  

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