• The Mijikenda, Kikuyu, Kamba, Tharaka and Maasai elders held separate events between June 25 and July 1 to invoke ancestors' help.
• In Central, Kikuyu elders led by Mathenge Wairegi prayed facing Mt Kenya and performed rituals under a Mugumo tree
Elders from different communities across the country have held prayers and conducted rituals to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Mijikenda, Kikuyu, Kamba, Tharaka and Maasai elders held separate events between June 25 and July 1 to invoke ancestors' help.
In Central, Kikuyu elders led by Mathenge Wairegi prayed facing Mt Kenya and performed rituals under a Mugumo tree
In Rift Valley, Laibon Shimel led prayers in sacred Maasai sites while Mzee Kavivia Munguti oversaw events in Ukambani as Mugwe N’Kunyua took charge for the Tharaka community.
Wairegi said the world has suffered due to the Covid-19 and people should pray so that God can heal the land.
Mugwe said the Tharaka Nithi elders slaughtered a white goat as a sacrifice to God. He urged leaders to put politics aside and work towards fighting the pandemic.
Simon Mitambo, regional program coordinator for African Biodiversity Network welcomed the elders' efforts.
Mitambo said Thursday that the spiritual elders believe that solutions lie in addressing the root causes, not symptoms of pandemics.
“The elders see the Covid-19 pandemic as a symptom of a very sick planet caused by constant destruction of our environment. They have been warning of these crises for many years, yet policymakers across the world are in denial that something is wrong. Until now, the ‘business as usual’ attitude has prevailed,” he said.
Mitambo said there were a lot of preparations from the elders prior to the week-long dedicated prayers.
“The elders abstained from sex for four days before the rituals and four days after the rituals. This is a commitment of denial and recognition that they have not taken care of the planet properly,” Mitambo said.
He said the rituals in sacred natural sites are to restore order and the balance of cycles of nature in their territory.
The results will be better community and ecosystem resilience in these times of crises, he said.
“We call upon policymakers and other stakeholders to incorporate ideas inspired by the wisdom of the indigenous elders. These elders are the true custodians of ancestral wisdom which has sustained the planet over millennia. Ancestral wisdom has an important role to play in protecting biodiversity and human well-being,” Mitambo said.
The interventions were organised by African Biodiversity Network and community based groups including Institute for Culture an Ecology, Society for Alternative Learning and Transformation and Ngaatho Community Foundation.
(edited by o. owino)