• In Kantheleu village, Igembe Central subcounty, there is a mugumo that has survived for more than 200 years.
•Mwereria said their forefather's used the tree as a shrine where they offered sacrifices of animals, foodstuff and prayers to appease God.
Never dare touch a mugumo tree or pluck its leaf lest a curse follows you.
In Meru, people used mugumo tree as a shrine where they would offer sacrifices and worship their God known as Murungu. They believed that the spirit of God dwells there and the tree belongs to God.
In Kantheleu village, Igembe Central subcounty, there is a mugumo that has survived for more than 200 years.
The tree stands at more than 90 feet with a stream of water flowing near it.
Its rope-like roots spread towards the streams. The tree is surrounded by a thick bush which no one has dared to clear while its branches have provided a shelter where clansmen stand while performing rituals.
According to Birithu Mwereria, 71, the branches have never been pruned or used as firewood since residents believe that anyone who tries to cut a branch or pluck its leaf dies.
Mwereria said traditionally it was believed that if the branches are used as firewood, the house would go up in flames hence they were left to decay. The tree, he added, is believed to grow naturally courtesy of God’s power.
When asked about the quality of its timber, Mwereria added that the tree has never been split to produce timber as Ameru believed that using mugumo timber would cause a great curse to them and their offspring.
Mwereria said that when a mugumo tree falls it signifies that a calamity would happen to the community. He said in the past, residents believed that when a mugumo tree fell, there would either be drought or defeat by enemies and the elders would organise a ceremony, offer sacrifice and perform rituals to heal the land.
The Njuri Ncheke elders have ensured that the tree is used for major purposes and offering sacrifices to Murungu. A child born in this community grows knowing the repercussions of interfering with this ‘tree of Murungu'.
Mwereria said their forefather's used the tree as a shrine where they offered sacrifices of animals, foodstuff and prayers to appease God.
They believed that through that tree one can receive generational curses or blessings. Up to date, their descendants bestow great honour on it.
He said they also believed there was a connection between mugumo and rain. They believed that when the tree shed leaves, the rains would fall heavily contrary to when it does not.
During the dry season, Njuri Ncheke council of elders would offer a sacrifice to appease Murungu under the same Mugumo tree.
Mwereria said during circumcision, young Meru boys, especially from Igembe region, took cold bath from the water flowing near this tree which was believed to possess healing power and God's blessings.
He urged residents to preserve indigenous trees, especially in water catchment areas, to combat adverse effects of climate change.