Gikuyu then built a homestead at Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga in Murang’a. This place is considered sacred and has many fig trees. Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga is a gazetted cultural site.
Mugo wa Kibiru The Kikuyu Sheer
Mugo wa Kibiru or Chege (Cege) wa Kibiru was a Kenyan sage from the Gikuyu tribe (Kikuyu, in Swahili) who lived in the 18th and early 19th centuries. His name “Mugo” means “a healer”.
Mugo wa Kibiru was born in Kariara, Murang’a, near Thika, but his exact dates of birth and death are unknown.
There are various anecdotes regarding Chege wa Kibiru in Kikuyu folklore, but his claim to fame arose as a result of his accurate prophecies regarding the advent of the Caucasian (white man) on African soil long before British missionaries set their feet in Kenya.
Chege’s prophecies were that there would come a race of people whose skin complexion would resemble a small pale-colored frog that lives in water (kiengere) and one would be able to see their blood flowing under their skins just like the frog.
And these pale strangers would have clothing that resembles butterflies (ciĩuhuruta) in their colorful aspect. And that these pale strangers would carry magical sticks that would produce fire (guns firing bullets), and it will be foolish for our warriors to confront them with their spears.
Chege also prophesied that there would be a cultural erosion of tribal customs where Kikuyu youth would adopt the ways of the Caucasians.
The Caucasians would also carry fire in their pockets (matchboxes). Cooked food previously never sold in Kikuyu custom, would be sold on roadsides and markets all over the country.
The plains where the Maasai graze their cattle would be farmed. Chege prophesied the coming of the Uganda Railway line that would stretch from one body of water Indian Ocean in the east to another in the west Lake Victoria and described an iron snake that would have many “legs” like an earthworm (train), traveling on this railway line, eating the Caucasians and vomiting them when it stopped (train journey with passengers).
According to the prophecy, the iron snake would have a bushy head bellowing smoke.
Chege predicted with astonishing accuracy that there would be a famine in Kikuyuland that would exterminate much of the tribe right before the arrival of these pale-colored strangers or foreigners.
The Sacred Tree
Chege foretold that the Kikuyus and other tribes would be colonized by the Caucasians but that the colonization would end after many years (68 years) with the result that the Caucasians would leave Kenya.
Chege predicted that a giant fig tree 15 feet in diameter located in Thika, 26 miles north of Nairobi, would wither and die by the day Kenya gained independence.
Chege’s prophecies had proved so accurate that the fig tree was regarded as sacred by the Kikuyus; even the British administrators/colonialists took the prophecy very seriously that they tended to and reinforced the fig tree with a mound of earth, and then built an iron ring around it to prevent it from falling.
These measures were bound to fail. Shortly before Kenya gained independence from the British, the fig tree was struck by lightning and began to wither rapidly.
On 12th December 1963 when Kenya officially became an independent state, the tree had decayed and died thereby fulfilling Chege wa Kibiru’s prophecy over a century earlier.
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