It's a battle for souls in Mt kenya as Kikuyu seers ou to woo Christians

Retired Catholic Archbishop John Cardinal Njue. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Two years later, the campaign by the church seems to have borne little or no fruit. Their antagonists advocating culture have gone a notch higher to use celebrated artists to convert the flock to return to their old ways of worshipping. For the first time, culturists are opening up about their intensive strategy to convert the faithful to return to their god, Mwene Nyaga.

Lifestyle diseases

They claim that the Biblical God belongs to colonialists and the whites and that lifestyle diseases struck the Agikuyu community when they abandoned their supreme deity. Karanja Mwangi, who describes himself as a seer (mundu mugo), says he uses the cultural divine intervention to speak to the living dead who dictate to him about the calamities his over 100 followers are facing and how to mitigate them.

"We have made major strides to inform and educate our people about our true god and our efforts are bearing fruits, in the next 50 years, all Christians will have realised about Mwene Nyaga and will get back to their traditional ways of worshipping," said Mwangi.

According to Mwangi, there are about 1,000 seers, whose roles are equivalent to that of the clergy only that seers awaken the spirit of the living dead to guide their community.

"We meet twice a month where we try to restore the river back to its course. we don't go to churches because I believe religion is meant for division and can't represent the god we know," the head of a group known as the Gikuyu Academy said.

However, he says he advocates for progressive culture, that which is not static saying they do away with archaic cultures such as female genital mutilation.

Gikuyu elders conduct rituals in the memory of Waiyaki wa Hinga at Ndefo in Nakuru County in March 2016. [Boniface Thuku, Standard]

The songs also call for the community to go back to perform rituals for it to be blessed by the gods. Other artists like Waithaka Mbogo alias Dr Gathemba has been spreading the message of traditionalism through songs and through YouTube where he has been interviewing 'seers and prophets' and believes the messages have been effective.

"I have about 50 songs that seek to popularise our traditional way of life and return to our god. We project that about 1.5 million people from the Agikuyu community have ditched Christianity and come back home," said Mbogo.

The move has unsettled the church whose flock continues diminishing. Mt Kenya Bishops Forum chairperson Stephen Maina said the trend is worrying especially where the young generation has been radicalised to denounce Christianity. The prelate said the church is now arming itself by harnessing church groups from Sunday schools, teen and youth groups to educate them on embracing the right cultural practices and abandon those that have been overtaken by events.

He said the confusion caused by the culturists has contributed to increased cases of female genital mutilation and male chauvinism in society.

"We have called on churches to reinforce associations and teach them why it is necessary to worship the Lord God and why they should ditch the archaic cultural practices," said the Bishop of Full Time Winners Church of Kenya.

Church warning

However, Bishop Timothy Gichere of ACK Mt Kenya Central Diocese said since there is freedom of worship in Kenya, the church has little to fight back but said they have warned their faithful about the dangers of syncretism.

Bishop Timothy Gichere. [Ndungu Gachane, Standard]

"We are aware of the vigorous campaign about the directionless group that is preaching the anti-church message. We have warned Christians that joining them and practising what they preach is denouncing their faith," said Dr Gichere.

He said most Christians are finding their way back to the church after knowing the truth and wanted everybody who wants to denounce his faith to consult widely before making the move.

Murang'a Catholic Bishop James Wainaina said the matter was serious adding that those practising the rituals are avoiding church weddings, preferring traditional ones, avoiding baptisms and Christian naming.

"The rituals are done discreetly and without much pomp. In part, those who have participated in Christian rites like baptism or even participating in the mass, are required to be ritually cleansed in the traditional way. What this means is that being baptised or attending and participating in mass in evil, by the advocates of such unchristian practices is a radical break from, Christianity," said the Bishop.