New council of elders promises to bring unity ahead of 2022 polls
By Patrick Beja
| December 4th 2021
It was pomp and colour in Kilifi County as the newly appointed Achonyi Council of Elders were ushered into office, carrying with them the hopes of the second largest sub-tribe in the county after the Giriama.
The Chonyi sub-tribe of the Mijikenda installed fresh leaders who are expected to guide the community on political, economic and social matters ahead of next year’s General Election.
A team of 33 council members, led by retired teacher Patrick Rasi, was installed in the day-long traditional ceremony that also featured popular traditional dances by 85-year-old Njunga Mwagambo.
And for the first time, members of the public were allowed to watch the elaborate protocols surrounding the selection of the elders.
The new team will also be expected to play a key role in arbitrating land disputes through alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
Mr Rasi heads the 5th edition of the council while the council team represents all 27 Chonyi clans. Six are members of the executive committee that serves for three years before elections are called.
In the council that was formed during the return of multi-party politics, the chairman serves a maximum of two terms.
Geoffrey Mwango, one of the organisers of the function, Chonyi for Chonyis, said they had for the first time come up with such an extravaganza as they sought to elevate the council to the level of Njuri Ncheke, where the chairman would also be the community spokesman.
“We have embarked on plans to strengthen the council so that the spokesman becomes the undisputed spokesman of the community. We want to have a voice after years of disunity,” said Mwango, who is also the Kenya Maritime Authority chairman.
Rasi took over from Runya Ngamba, a former Sacco manager who served for six years after winning two terms as council chairman.
Rasi, a former Kenya National Union of Teacher Kilifi executive secretary, was dressed in white and blue traditional attire, complete with a red cap.
He sat on a three-legged stool and was surrounded by council members during the ceremony held at Mwembe Kati in Chonyi sub-County. He was handed a stick and flywhisk as instruments of power before Mzee Mwagambo prayed for blessings from the ancestors.
During the prayers, Mzee Mwagambo poured palm wine from a slim cylindrical gourd “to please the ancestors to accept the new leadership and bless the land.”
In his acceptance speech, Rasi said he would endeavour to foster peace, champion development and ensure the community moved in one direction.
“I want to keep the community united and always speak in one voice,” he said.
His predecessor, Ngamba, tried to resolve a long-standing boundary dispute between the Chonyi and Kauma without success, and the community will be looking up to the new team to tackle it.
Kilifi South MP Ken Chonga, who attended the ceremony, said the elders were in charge of all affairs of the community.
“The council is being positioned to guide the community. It has held its democratic elections and, for the first time, it has set up an office,” Mr Chonga said.
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