What you need to know:
- Njuri Ncheke is more than 800 years old. The site, which serves as the Ameru parliament, was identified due to its centrality and serenity.
- The oval-shaped building’s design was influenced by the Ameru traditional elder’s house. It was built using a donation from one of the elders.
The Ameru Njuri Ncheke Council of Elders’ shrine at Nchiru, Tigania West, is a heritage site under the care of the National Museums of Kenya.
The shrine, near the Meru University of Science and Technology, on the Meru-Maua road, sits on 20 acres. On the land is a dome-shaped building erected in the early 1960s.
It’s here that the elders meet to discuss serious matters that involve their community as well as settle serious disputes involving the Meru people.
According to Mr Josphat Murangiri, the secretary-general of the council, Njuri Ncheke is more than 800 years old. He says the site, which serves as the Ameru parliament, was identified due to its centrality and serenity.
“Selected elders from each region of the Ameru meet at Nchiru shrine to endorse various resolutions on socio-economic issues affecting the community. The last major declaration made at the shrine was banning of female genital mutilation and the tradition of redeeming sold land using a goat,” Mr Murangiri said.
The oval-shaped building’s design was influenced by the Ameru traditional elder’s house. It was built using a donation from one of the elders.
After independence, Njuri Ncheke experienced a lull that saw the shrine abandoned, leading to vandalism and theft of rare hardwood used in its roofing.
Mr George Kirigia, who served as the Meru Museum curator in the 80s, said the Njuri Ncheke shrine was transferred to NMK in 1985 to rescue it from years of neglect.
Besides being a National Museums protected site, Mr Murangiri says that the shrine is significant to the Meru community as it is the seat of the tribal government.
He adds that plans are underway to establish a cultural centre, an old people’s home and hospitality facility at the shrine.
For centuries, the revered Njuri Ncheke was the preserve of elderly men, but during the last few years, young men have also been admitted to the club.