Kaya elders install new ‘kingpin’

Mr Baya Mitsanze, the chairman of the Mijikenda Kaya elders (left), hands a sword and shield to Ganze MP Peter Shehe after he was installed the Coast kingpin at Kaya Godoma in Ganze.

What you need to know:

  • Lawmaker takes over mantle to fight for the rights of coastal people

Kaya elders on Friday named a new a ‘kingpin’ to replace former Cabinet minister Emmanuel Karisa Maitha who died nine years ago.

The traditional leaders from the Mijikenda community led by the Giriama Elders chairman, Mr Katana Kaluu, installed Ganze MP Peter Shehe in an elaborate ceremony similar to that done to Mr Maitha in 2003.

The installation of Mr Shehe at Kaya Godoma in Mrima wa Ndege shrine involved more than 100 priests and high-ranking women from the nine sub-tribes of Rabai, Duruma, Digo, Kauma, Kambe, Giriama, Chonyi, Jibana and Ribe.

Mijikenda Council of Elders organising secretary Mwanyule Baya said the communities held consultations after the March 4 General Election before settling on Mr Shehe last month.

“This is the climax of a resolution reached at a Malindi meeting attended by 36 Kaya elders from all the Mijikenda communities,” Mr Baya said.

Since Mr Maitha’s death in August 2004, he said, there had been nobody to push their agenda at the national arena.

Previous attempts to find Mr Maitha’s successor have been futile.

The council’s secretary-general Joseph Mwarandu said a political kingpin was crucial if the Coast was to realise meaningful development.

“The rite Mr Shehe has undergone has never been witnessed since 2003,” Mr Mwarandu said. Mr Baya, who was the master of ceremonies at the function, said part of the rites that started on Wednesday night was cleansing of the MP in a ceremony presided over by a council of nine priests called Gohu.

The Gohu later handed him to a council of nine priestesses who anointed Shehe with oil amid a special ghost exorcising dance aimed at making him a courageous politician.

Mr Shehe was handed over to Vaya, the traditional Mijikenda governing council at 4am after taking a meal of ugali and stew symbolising his preparedness to face challenges in leading the community.

“The Vaya comprising 37 elders took him to the altar deep down in the shrine for a consultative and instruction session that lasted eight hours,” Mr Baya said.

After the function, Mr Shehe said he would pursue the issue of landlessness in the region with other lawmaker to ensure that residents have stable land tenure.

“Our biggest problem in Coast has been lack of unity among leaders — a trend that has frustrated our efforts to bring title deeds to our people,” Mr Shehe said.

The MP said Bills targeting repossession of irregularly allocated and grabbed land should be prepared and tabled in Parliament with the support of over 30 MPs from the region.