Why Njenga’s transformation from Mungiki to pastor is not convincing
Posted Sunday, June 3 2012 at 18:01
How do you solve a problem like Maina Njenga? When he was Mungiki leader, his boys raped the conscience of Central Kenya and parts of Nairobi.
Mungiki killed, maimed and extorted money from businesspeople and peasants alike. In a sense, Mungiki ran a parallel rogue state.
And when he renounced the sect, the killings stopped but the extortion continues. In between the atrocities, Maina was arrested and charged with possession of illicit arms, among other crimes.
He was bundled into prison, and there started his transformation from a suspect to Maina Njenga the nationalist.
As the post-election clashes intensified in 2008, politicians across the divide fell over themselves to curry favour with him.
Mr Raila Odinga, whose supposed ODM supporters were being killed in Naivasha by Mungiki, sent him Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power and even pledged to facilitate his release.
The head of the most murderous gang in recent history suddenly became a cog in the political wheel of reconciliation.
When he was freed, Maina cast his spell on more people. As the politicians courted him, he struck a national chord and capped it all with benediction.
Out went Maina Njenga the notorious Mungiki leader and in came James Maina Njenga the prophet. Many dismissed this as just another circus, but again we had terribly underestimated this man’s genius.
And so when he renounced the Mungiki, we believed him. Wasn’t he just “born-again” the other day? Soon, the focus shifted from Mungiki and its atrocities to its political benefactors.
The killers became political lambs, and their masters national chaperons for security.
As Saul (Maina) became Paul (Maina), he got another revelation — different from the one that supposedly struck him as a teenager to drop all things Western, including Christianity, and embrace the deadly dogma that fertilised his violent mind.
The spirit, he said, had told him to found a church to save the souls of youths led to crime by poverty and politicians. Maina the layman became Maina the pastor. The transition was not difficult, for he had long been the spiritual leader of Mungiki.
And not surprisingly, his church has stood out for two things. First, the profile of the average faithful is a perfect fit for Mungiki. Second, it is the only church where police responding to a distress call have been beaten up.
From the pulpit, Maina has become a nationalist. He castigates politicians for misusing youths for violence and has vowed to lead a generational change in Central Kenya leadership.
The people who only five years ago condemned Mungiki are now courting him with unprecedented lust. Maina has become a trophy spouse for politicians proclaiming their love for youth.
But he has not apologised for atrocities committed in his name. You cannot talk reconciliation when you have murderers and politicians cutting deals among themselves.
Reconciliation is a factor of honest dialogue and integrity, not expediency. This is why I am afraid, very afraid, of this man and his wiles.