Should Uhuru Kenyatta worry about the Mugumo trees falling in Nyeri?

Some of the Kikuyu men inspect a fig tree

In the last two weeks, two Mugumo trees have fallen in Nyeri County, causing concern and anxiety among the locals. The community believes that when a Mugumo tree falls, it is a signal that ‘something’ will happen.

When the latest Mugumo tree fell recently after a heavy downpour in Nyeri, a council of Gikuyu elders, commonly known as Kiama kia Ma, went to inspect the tree that fell earlier on former Internal Security Minister Dr Chris Murungaru farm at Game Rock area in the outskirts of Nyeri town. The elders were on site to conduct rituals to ward off evil.

During the run-up to the 2013 general elections, a Mugumo tree fell at Giakanja village in Tetu, and the local community quickly interpreted it to be Ituika, which means change of guard.

The prophecy came to be when the youthful duo of Jubilee Coalition leaders, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, took over power from Mwai Kibaki. Elders led by Samuel Kamitha, the Director General of Gikuyu and Mumbi Cultural Museum, noted that in Kikuyu culture, the falling of a Mugumo tree signals change of guard or the an end of a dynasty.

“In 1963, a huge Mugumo tree fell in Thika, and this led to the exit of colonialists, who were being fought by a local group, the Mau Mau,” Kamitha told The Nairobian.

The Thika tree, according to Kamitha and a Kikuyu elder, Wanjohi Waweru, was also prophesied by Kikuyu prophet Mugo wa Kibiru. “Mugo prophesied that the fall of a giant Mugumo tree in Thika would symbolise the end of European rule in Kenya,” said Waweru.

When the British colonial government learnt of the prophecy, they built an iron ring around it to prevent it from falling.

Given that Uhuru and Ruto are relatively young politicians, the fall of this symbolic trees has sent elders and the community at large into a spin. As to whether a change of guard is afoot, everyone will just have to wait and see.