As Kenya enters into the electioneering period, intense political drama is slowly unfolding as politicians seek to outdo each other and woo voters to their side.
Together with their allies, politicians are known to leave no stone unturned when looking for favour from the electorates. It is for this reason that leaders find themselves interacting with priests from different denominations and going a notch further to be coronated by various council of elders from different communities.
In Kilifi and Kwale counties, Kaya elders are known to be revered spiritual people in the society. However, they have found themselves in political storms as prominent people approach them for ‘anointing’. The matter has been met with resistance from a section of locals especially if the leader being anointed is an outsider.
Renowned Kaya elder, Shaban Ndegwa has been in the headlines for conducting prayers to politicians including Uhuru Kenyatta when he was facing charges against humanity at the International Criminal Court. Ngegwa has also previously coronated Raila Odinga as a Digo elder and gave him the name ‘Gakweli.’
Ndegwa picked the mantle from his deceased uncle who appeared in the dreams of one of the Kaya elders asking for a family member to take up his position.
With other relatives not interested, Ndegwa who is currently serving as the vice chairman of Kwale and Kilifi Kayas Committee was forced to present himself.
“The news was delivered to my family but none of my elder brothers accepted. There is fear that if you break the Kaya rules you die,” Ndegwa told the Standard in a past publication.
The 60 year old joined the institution in 1991 as a guard, then served as a secretary in 1994 and rose to the rank of Kaya Mtswakara chairman in 1997.
As a Kaya elder, Ndegwa has had the opportunity to protect Kaya forests against destruction. Alongside other colleagues he is also tasked with conducting prayers and ensuring no one defiles shrines by entering with shoes.
In 2011, trouble simmered after foreign engineers who were conducting a feasibility study for a dam project entered one shrine while wearing shoes.
In order to prevent disasters, the Kaya elders demanded a colossal ksh 100000 that would go into cleansing the shrine. The money was paid by the Coast Development Authority and went into buying a black bull, a sheep, two black he-goats and 12 pieces each of black, red and white clothes for the appeasement ceremony.
In March, 2021 Ndegwa led in conducting prayers for ODM leader Raila Odinga in an open ground in Kwale. However, Ndegwa says that the opposition leader said he will come back for a thorough anointing ceremony in a shrine.
According to the Standard, such a ceremony is charged between ksh 200,000 – 500,000 for an elaborate session.
Raila is expected to cater for the expenses that will go into purchasing two black bulls, a sheep and pieces of clothes coloured red, white and black.
The red color signifies bravery, the black represents the black African skin while white stands for peace.