A group of Mijikenda Kaya elders is calling for the toning down of political campaigns in the country as well as an end to the wanton killings of elderly persons within the Mijikenda community.
The elders, who are members of the Malindi District Cultural Association (MADCA), instead urged Kenyans to embrace peace as they prepare to honour Kenya’s heroes during the Mashujaa Day on Tuesday.
They said this on Friday as they embarked on a 68-kilometre peace walk from Malindi town to Shakahola village in Chakama location, where celebrated Mijikenda heroine Mekatilili wa Menza is believed to have ignited the Giriama Uprising against colonial rule in 1913.
MADCA Secretary-General Joseph Mwarandu said the elders’ will stopover at Jilore, Kakoneni and Lango Baya before reaching Shakahola where a festival would be held in remembrance of Mama Mekatilili on the eve of Mashujaa Day on Monday.
MADCA Chairman Emmanuel Munyaya at the same time said the deliberate murders of elderly persons among the Mijikenda was embarrassing the community.
“Our walk from Malindi to Shakahola is also to sensitize the people of Kilifi County and the Coast region as a whole on the need to take good care of the elderly instead of harassing and killing them on suspicion that they (elders) are practising necromancy,” he said.
He urged the young generation to realize that elderly persons were a great resource in society that needed to be jealously protected.
“Our elderly persons are our natural resources. We have killed too many of them for far too long and now we are saying it is enough because this has turned to be an embarrassment to our community,” he implored.
He called on law enforcement officers to cooperate with culture enthusiasts with e view to ending the wanton killing of elders in the community as well as an end to the practice of witchcraft.
He, however, said the young generation, especially those who had received some basic education, were using witchcraft as an excuse to kill the elderly persons, saying the main reason for the killings emanated from disagreements on land inheritance.
Stan Kiraga, a former chairman of the association, said the walk would be climaxed by a consultative meeting of representatives of all kayas (sacred forests) in the region to evaluate their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (swot) and forge a united front in handling the community’s socio-economic challenges.
The elders, who included men and women, started the walk at the Uhuru Garden in Malindi Town and were expected to take four days to reach Shakahola village where Mekatilili wa Menza is believed to have slapped a colonial district commissioner, thus parking the Giriama uprising.
The men conducted prayers and offered libations at Mekatilili’s statue while women danced the Giriama traditional kifundu dance believed to have been Mekatilili’s hobby before they started the long journey.