The Manual Computer

The staff of a seer muthigi wa Murathi is not necessarily a symbol of authority as some Western establishment have adapted for their religious leaders and the royals. However, there are many types of staffs but only three reflect psychic effect on the bearer.

The first is a long staff that is bent at the top. This is the seer’s staff. Other than portraying the sacerdotal authority of an African priesthood in relation to the mysteries of the universe, the seers originally used their staff as calculating device. A close look at the seers staff, there are nine visible knots or rings. The knots are number 1-9 but the graduation lacks a knot for zero. Zero is represented by the end grip of the hand. When confronted by difficulty additional sums related to past or future events, the seer holds the staff horizontally with his two hands and work the staff from the left; the lowest unit 1 to the right; the highest unit 9. As he touches the knots in calculations in tenths, hundredths and thousandths, shuts the eyes and enters into trance. When the addition is over, he holds the staff upright and tells out the answer. Traditionally seers were in service of Ngai and the king. If the seer was predicting about let’s say a major event like a catastrophic earthquake, standing in front of the king. The king would be disturbed and even visibly shaken because in whatever the prophet utters must come to pass, only for the king to enquire when that earthquake would occur. The seer would work out his psychic sums and if found it would occur in another 200 years to come, he would reveal to the king in a humbled and comforting words.

“Your honour the king, as Ngai lives, the great earthquake will not come at your reign, nor that of your son, but in the reign of your great,  great grandson. ”  The king would feel relieved and sleep in peace.

Throughout Africa, seers unlike the religious leaders do not seek favours from kings and chiefs or eat or drink from high tables. They simply feel contented with their morsel of frugal food eaten in the caves, while counting on Ngai’s  favour.

The second muthigi wa (gutuithania) cira (the judicial staff) forms two branches at the top. This staff is slightly shorter than the holder. The formation of two branches at the top signifies ancestral spirits. It means the bearer when holding difficulty assignment his ancestors spirits would readily come to his assistance. It should be noted 1 (one) signifies Omnipotent Ngai and 2 (two) signifies the spirits. In land cases elders carry such staffs because the land or soil belongs to three rightful owners, the dead, the living and the unborn. The unborn are represented by Ngai. It should be noted in all land disputes, cases were taken to kiharo (out in the open theatre) where Muthage (the African candelabrum) tree was planted as a court emblem. The seven branched tree depicted the presence of seven angels. Its psychic awe-inspiring effect; gave court sittings the seriousness they deserved in delivering justice.

The third muthigi wa utongoria(the leadership staff) is usually a straight staff. It might be decorated with family totem and other information related to the leadership lineage. In expression of family’s or empire’s treasures, the staff might be made of precious minerals. This staff is the most valuable in terms of economic value and priceless in sentimental values because it is a property of the whole lineage of rulers. Its value in leadership is at par with the leaders or kings ring that is the seal of the kingdom. Consider the great epic of Maharajah, losing his ring only to be found by a contented sage turned beggar.

Copyright: Gikuyu and Mumbi Cultural Museum