Encounter with real grave diggers of Shakahola

In Summary
  • Mutwiri wa Yesu digs rhombus mass grave to house sixteen kids.
  • Reflects on his history and journey to Shakahola.
Detectives from the Homicide Unit and forensic experts retrieve bodies in Shakahola.
REGULATION: Detectives from the Homicide Unit and forensic experts retrieve bodies in Shakahola.
Image: FILE

Be it at night or during the day, cats bury their poop. It has earned them the reputation of being among the cleanest animals anywhere. This thought repeated itself for the sixteenth time in the luminous mind of Mutwiri wa Njoka wa Zamblon wa Jeconiah. Most people simply referred to him as Mutwiri wa Yesu.

He was taking a break and sitting on the warm mound of soil. It was humid. It was fresh from the bowels of an unusual hole he had been digging since the sun set. It was not rectangular like most you and I have seen in our lives. This one was square to some extent. It was meant to be square but due to the networks of root of this dense bush around, he had to take a rhombus design. A rhombus mass grave. Picture it in your mind that way.

Mutwiri wa Yesu wiped his dewy brows with the back of his second-hand Bible. He carried it everywhere ever since he stole it from a lodging in Embu immediately after he had come out of prison. That is another story for another day for today he was a new man. He had given his life to Christ thanks to a radio. It is the thing that made him abandon his unique job as a washer-man of a mortuary on the Thika Superhighway and come to this sanctuary in Shakahola. The tiny, reliable radio.

The radio had linked him with the teachings of the prophet. Each daytime in a slum behind a university he would forget the macabre bodies he had washed all night at the mortuary. His job was simple but important. He cleaned bodies of the dead and restored their aesthetic appeal before relatives came and carted them away with wails or silence. At night he did this. In the day he rested with his radio.

Chance had taken him to the station of the prophet. He never left for six straight months. He would listen of the New Jerusalem that the prophet was creating at the coast. His permanent melancholy would dissipate a little. He would forget his rapist father Njoka wa Zamblon wa Jeconiah who had died in a Nyeri prison.

The preachings made him forget a little the beatings of his grandfather, Zamblon wa Jeconiah, who had raised him as an apprentice in his sorcery-peddling boma. The gravel and charged voice of the prophet inside the radio, all the way from the coast, made him feel release from his ancestor Jeconiah.

The whole village knew Jeconiah died a Mau Mau, years ago. He was gunned down on the outskirts of Embu after his marauding, marijuanad gang attacked a colonial farm near the Njukiri River. As alarms rent the air and his comrades-at-arms fled, he remained behind raping the decapitated corpse upstairs. His body was never buried but quartered and sprinkled into this river, so the story goes in the sleepy tea-village Mutwiri persevered his childhood as an apprentice to his mganga grandpa.


The month here in New Jerusalem, an expansive thicket 100 kilometres outside Malindi, was the same time the fast-to-Jesus campaign started. He had come earlier and attended many teachings at the main sanctuary first. He had participated in crusades. After he abandoned his morgue job in Nairobi, sold all his slum belongings and took a night coast bus on River Road near Tea Room.

Earlier he had plucked courage and called the number advertised at the end of the radio sermons of the prophet. A lovely assistant had talked to him and connected him to the man of God. He talked to him in a fatherly way. He pitied his sad life and life story as he listened on the phone to Mutwiri crying and narrating the family history. He cajoled him to leave all behind and follow him. The curse of the four generations that was upon the young ex-convict would dissipate.

Hence the new beginning here. Hence this new Mutwiri complete with a newly acquired coastal accent. Hence this man who had run away from his past to Jerusalem here in Kenya. The prophet was a true man. True to his word he had welcomed Mutwiri in person. He had trusted him with carrying his umbrella during crusades hither and thither. Ultimately, and without precedence, he had bequeathed him an acre for free in Shakahola.


It is free love, this real holy affection given to him in abundance, which made Mutwiri adore his spiritual father. He still kept the radio here in the bush. Distance from the town where the prophetic sanctuary was vast but he never felt alone. The prophet had bequeathed families from all over Kenya new homes here. It was a place of healing, new beginnings and spiritual beauty. The lack of water and electricity was compensated with the fertile virgin land, and when it drizzled, crops sprouted as if this was Embu again.

The mission to fast till Jesus was sighted started this year. He moved here with a man from Zaire, a woman with twins and HIV-sufferer from a place he called Mumias. They came here the same day and settled almost at the same site. Near them was an ex-army man with a beautiful daughter whom Mutwiri eyed openly but growing ideas of rape made him shy away from whenever their paths crossed. Her father caught him eyeing her severally.

As the faithful commenced the fast, it did not take long before some finished it successfully. The kids were the heroes of here. They met Jesus faster than the adults and this was as the prophet wished and had prophesied. Jesus loves children more, he kept saying.


Mutwiri wa Yesu picked up his mattock to dig again. The new grave could house the sixteen kids here, including the twins. He looked up from the shallow pit just in time to see the ex-army man bring down a huge rungu on his head. Blackout.


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