Kikuyu Medicine

The greatest and most famous Gikuyu prophet and seer was Cege wa Kibiru who lived at or around Kariara near Thika. Because like all great Gikuyu seers he was to become a renowned healer or Man of Medicine, Mundu-Mugo, he later came to be known as Mugo wa Kibiru that is Mugo, (Doctor) the son of Kibiru. He was however not the biological son of Kibiru but was adopted and born ceremonially into the Anjiru clan of the Kibiru’s.

 

Among the “ten” Gikuyu clans, the Anjiru clan have traditionally been associated with prophesy and strong medicine. They were and still are the great healers of the tribe as evident from modern Anjiru like the late Nobel Peace laureate Professor Wangari wa Maathai. It is said that “a Munjiru has something and a bit more”, “Munjiru ari undu na kaundu kangi”, meaning that you can never fathom the depths of the soul of a Munjiru. In his role as a Diviner Priest, he carries a guard with a hooked neck, rugoci, so that unlike an ordinary Medicine Man who uses a straight narrow guard, he will always leave some divination beads and cowrie shells caught inside the dark unknown.

The Munjiru has a strong connection to all of nature and with his flute he can keep animals away or summon them to an assembly or to infest an entire village. In this way they were the guardians of the drinking places at the rivers so that people and their livestock could use the drinking places without fear of attack from wild animals. They would also place protective charms and paraphernalia at village entrances, bee hives and cultivated areas – of cause for a fee. No war party could set out without the protection of a Munjiru Man of Medicine or in Gikuyu, Munjiru Mundu Mugo aka Munjiru Mundu wa Mithaiga.

Cege as a very young boy was found in the forest by the hunter Kibiru as he was inspecting his traps. Seeing the boy all alone so deep in the forest, Kibiru approached him and asked;

“Young man, who are you and who is with you?”

The boy replied, “My name is Cege and I am with God, Ngai, Mwene Nyaga

Kibiru: “And where do you come from?

Cege replied, “I have come from God, Ngai, Mwene Nyaga”

Kibiru: “Will you come with me?

Cege: “Yes

Kibiru took the boy home and gave him to his eldest wife. He then performed the necessary purifications and rites of adoption and the boy became Cege wa Kibiru.

The great transformation of the Gikuyu from hunters and pastoralists into mainly agriculturalists must have happened after working iron became widespread in the Cuma Generation around the late 17th Century. The great Gikuyu historian and academician, Muriuki mentions a Cege regiment of the Manduti generation and places it just before the Cuma. This would plant the Cege’s firmly in the hunter/pastoralist period before Cuma. Could the mention of a Cege in the Gikuyu chronicles mark the period when the famous MMM, Cege lived? This would place these events in the early 1600s.

As a young boy his work before circumcision entailed looking after his father’s goats with other boys all day. Out in the field, he would often leave the other boys and go into the forest without fear of the wild animals. When they asked him where he had been he would reply that he had been with God, Ngai. When he grew up he began prophesying. It is not possible to compile a comprehensive list of all his sayings but the following is what has come down to us.

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