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KU, elders sign pact to conserve controversy ridden shrine

By Boniface Gikandi | December 8th 2014

Kenyatta University (KU) and the Kikuyu Council of elders have partnered to conserve the traditional Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga shrine.

In a memorandum signed by the two parties, the shrine will be rehabilitated and maintained as a historic site.

Without disclosing much information, the elders have demanded to conduct a traditional cleansing ceremony at the shrine. They allege that a ritual was conducted at the site without their consent.

The restoration works will start once the elders have conducted the cleansing ceremony.

The shrine that stands at Gakuyu village in Kiharu was abandoned in the 1980s after the local residents opposed plans by the defunct County Council of Murang'a to set up a tourist hotel in the area, describing the move as unethical.

Plans to restore the shrine were reached at during a consultative meeting that attracted hundreds of elders from various parts of the country at the historic General Ihura stadium.

The elder's council Chairman Wachira Kiago and former Mau Mau General Muiruri demanded a ritual to cleanse the facility before embarking on the programme.

"The elders demand to conduct a ritual after an incident was conducted at the shrine contrary to the wishes of the community," said the former Mau Mau general.

The Standard has since learned that the elders were referring to the installation of the former Cabinet minister, the late Njenga Karume at the shrine, an issue that caused tension within Mt Kenya region.

Governor Mwangi wa Iria (pictured) disclosed that the elders had approached his office seeking support towards the restoration of the shrine.

"The shrine will offer meeting venue for the elders, as they are required to offer guidance to the community and especially the young men," said the governor.

The county government, he said, was out to ensure the shrine becomes an internationally recognised facility.

"More importantly, the elders will be assembling at the shrine to chat the way forward for the community. The youth will benefit a lot as they will be undergoing guidance and counseling sessions at the shrine," said the governor.

Catherine Ndungo from KU's department of Culture said the shrine remains a pillar that can be used to generate income through tourism.

"With the engagement with the county government, the university's Department of Tourism will help with the restoration of the shrine," she said.

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