Mount Kenya Prayer Walk.
Before the arrival of the white Christian missionaries, Mount Kenya prayer walk was a very popular spiritual obligation among the Gikuyu, Embu and Meru people. Other communities in Kenya namely the Maasai, Samburu, Kalejin, Kamba, Luhya, Miji Kenda and the Taita were equally known to have recognized Mount Kenya prayer walk in their psyche. In the larger Africa, traditions tell of pilgrims coming from Ethiopia and others from southern part of Africa. The spiritual attachment varied from community to community. There were communities that took it in great zeal more or less as part of life and those that adapted the pilgrimage after hearsay from either their neighboring communities or from the pilgrims themselves. But, to all, the prayer walk had a common purpose. It was taken as the last resort, after all prayers and sacrifices and medications had failed in case of ailment. But there were those who took the pilgrimage with an entirely different mission like the old Egyptian princes. They set out from Egypt to die for three days in Ta Neteru – Mount Kenya. After the three days death induced by herbs, they resurrected to become sons gods through theogamy, thereafter, they acquired the title of Horus. This title was later adapted by all pharaohs. The Egyptian princess followed the footstep of Osiris. A member of the Heliopolitan Ennead mentioned in the first time or Zep Tepi, the ages that gods ruled Egypt.1
According to heliopolitan concept that was recorded after Egypt acquired the art of writing in 3100BC narrates how the nine principle gods of Ta Neteru gave shape to chaos through their will. From that chaos they formed and populated the land of Egypt. From creation they ruled among men as divine pharaohs for thousands of years. The Heliopolitan Ennead consisted of Ra, the sun god who created two divine offspring twins Shu, god of the air and dryness and Tufnet the goddess of moisture. Shu and Tufnet copulated and produced Geb, the god of earth and Nut, the goddess of Sky. Geb and Nut mated, creating Osiris and Isis, Set and Nepthys. Besides the nine original gods of creation and their offsprings Horus and Anubis other recognized deities namely Ptah and Thoth (Mephis was notable center for ancient cult dedicated to Ptah and Hermopolis was notable center for cult dedicated to god Thoth) had a paradise on earth called Ta Neteru.2
Ta Neteru was a fabulous land where gods rested and enjoyed the glory of paradise unlike Egypt where they exercised their anthropomorphic divine powers to create and settle. The geographical location of Ta Neteru was farther than Punt the land of spices and sweet smelling frankincense that were favored by gods. The description of Punt relates to the present Somalia and some parts of Ethiopia where such wild herbs are harvested to date. Bearing in mind Ta Neteru was farther than Punt, then the region South of Somalia comes in as the true Ta Nateru. Considering the description given, Kenya and Mount Kenya region in particular comes to mind in reference to Ta Nateru. It should be noted on arrival of Kabiru (Ethiopian Jews)3 in Mount Kenya in 1210 AD4 they destroyed by rolling nine stones that were erected in worship of gods who appeared in Egypt in the First Time or Zep Tepi. The center of this theology in Egypt was Inu or Inu Mahret. It was called by the black inhabitants of Egypt known as Anu. In the bible, Genesis 41 verse 45 it is referred to as On. When Egypt fell under the rule of Alexander the great it was renamed Heliopolis.
There is a rare but general exclamation of disapproval among the Gikuyu old men, when something falls accidentally in spite of all efforts to hold it firm. They express disavowal by crying Inu! No doubt it is an echo of a collective memory of the lost Inu in Mount Kenya, the Inu Resret. It is clear Inu in Gikuyu is an old term inherited from Karinga people whom Kabiru assimilated after their arrival in Mount Kenya region in 1210 AD.
The presence of River Nile in Egypt and the only river in the desert was venerated as one of their gods because it supplied water for domestic needs and farming. Their general view was the source of river Nile was the seat of their gods which was based “up”. Egyptians thought of South as up in consideration of the flow of Nile. That psychic “up” gave weight to their conceptions in Hermopolitan and Heliopolitan Theologies of Ta Neteru the land of gods. The Thinic or Hermopolitan worshipped Osiris and the Heliopolitan worshiped the sun god Ra.
It is worth noting the two theologies are referring to the primal world when the world was young. For much later, when Egyptians or Anu acquired the art of construction in the third millennium BC, they transferred Hermopolitan and Heliopolitan concept from intangible entities to tangible edifice namely pyramids. Pyramids represented the inner spirit of Egyptian belief system, the pyramidal height and angles notwithstanding.
Egyptian Fashion of Hermopolitan Mystique, the legend of the sacred triad, is not new. It first appeared in a written form in Egypt and as could be seen in the pyramid of Unas 2300 BC, Shabaka Stone 700 BC (Museum of London), Turin Papyrus and from other scattered sources. The demi gods in the triad were Osiris and his consort the Sister Isis and their son Horus. They appeared after chaos in the First Time or Zep Tepi.
In the Egyptian fashion Osiris was murdered by his evil brother and his remains thrown into the Nile, and finally, landed at Byblos on Syrian coast. Isis brought it back to Egypt. Set dismembered the body and scattered the remains throughout Egypt. Isis with the help of her son Horus, the Ibis god Thoth and jackal god Anubis reassembled the scattered remains of Osiris. Isis through her magic brought it back to life. When Osiris died he became sun god and god of resurrection to judge the souls but visiting the earth under the guise of man.5
After his death, he returned to the world of the living in form of a wolf to assist his son in the battle against Set. They defeated him and finally Set faced tribunal of Osiris for judgment in the underworld.
The Gikuyu fashion of Hermopolitan inherited from Karing’a
When the world was young at tene tene there were three gods in form of men living in the peaks of Mount Kenya. The principal god Utheri (Osiris) was married to Njathi (Isis). The role of Utheri was to control the light of the sun, when to rise and when to set. He was a just man with a clean heart and lover of peace. His consort controlled the distribution of water on earth. Their son Kiahu (Horus) had no definite role. He moved about from one responsibility to the other as a hobby but had no direct control.
Besides the three demi gods Utheri had a younger brother who was evil to the marrow like his name Theta, (Set). Theta controlled the darkness but the moon and the stars were under the control of Utheri. All along he wanted to corrupt his nephew Kiahu to challenge his brother’s legality in the control of light of night sky. When he realized Kiahu would not agree to challenge his father to a duel, he plotted to murder his brother.
One morning, Theta visited Utheri wearing a charming face. He enticed Utheri that they go for a stroll to Thagana (Ta Na)6 river, a river connecting Mount Kenya -Ta Neteru with the “abode of the blessed” situated away beyond a large expanse of water Mombasa?. Utheri asked his family to accompany them for his love of his brother Theta. When they reached Thagana, right at the river bank in the presence of Njathi and Kiahu he removed his sword from scabbard, and facing Utheri, he said “I will take your life and send you to the underworld not because you deserve it, but because of my nature of formation. I was formed to do evil as opposed to your good natured. Sorry brother, I cannot desist for I have no will power. ”
He raised the sword and struck Utheri in one blow. As Njathi and Kiahu rushed to give Utheri a magical healing, Utheri said “I do not require healing because I was not formed to be subjected to calamity. I was formed to control light that comes to the earth. Now time is nay for me to go and be a companion of light but I will not leave you. I will be coming every morning at sun rise to solve the world disputes. My last words of advice to you Theta Never go within the vicinity of that Mountain”. Pointing towards Mount Kenya, “That mound was founded on the wisdom of the star”.
Utheri rose upwards in the direction of the sun and from that moment he was amalgamated with the sun. At night he was, as he is today imposed in the sky as Karau the Orion.
When Theta killed Utheri the quarrel was heard by mankind in different locations .The holy men of men went towards the direction of Thagana to inquire .It was resolved that Kiahu and Theta be summoned to attend reconciliatory meeting in a neutral ground, the present Karura forest near Nairobi was selected as the venue. After three days of deliberations in a cave a resolution was passed that Kiahu and his mother be allocated Mount Kenya and Theta the evil one was relocated to Mount Kilimanjaro, hence the mound of Horus and mound of Set. The good and the evil were separated by Karura forest.
As days passed by, Kiahu developed the urge to avenge for his father’s death but he could not go against the ruling of sons of men. One day, as he was contemplating on how to execute the plot without offending the sons of men he remembered a wise counsel given by his mother when he was a young boy, “Evil men are not endowed with wisdom.” Kiahu transformed himself into a wise man and passed through Karura forest that was marked as the buffer zone. When Theta saw Kiahu, he ascended wearing a happy face to meet the “wise man”. The battle that ensued left Theta dead. Kiahu did not inherit the mound of Theta, he opted to remain in the mound he inherited from his father, and, for the respect of the wise counsel adopted by the sons of men he confined himself to Mount Kenya. The sons of men kept a safe distance from the mound of Theta.7
The mist in the psychic narration of Ta Neteru is intertwined with the roles of demi gods and sons of men in unknown times in history, clears off when Gikuyu Kabiru arrives with the ark of covenant in Mount Kenya in 1210 AD. The presence of nine stones erected in Mount Kenya during the worship of the nine original deities recognized in Heliopolitan theology put Mount Kenya in the same importance as Heliopolis, Hermopolis and Mephis. Considering Utheri (Osiris) was the president of the land of south ( the gods abode ) who took voyage from South (to civilize, teach skills and governance to Egypt, Ethiopia, Arabia and India) before he was killed by his brother Theta is a historical fact in the out of Africa theory. The discovery of Utheri’s tomb by Ebbe Emile Amelineau a great Egyptologist at Abydos proved Utheri was no longer a mythical character but one of the oldest rulers of Africa. It is now becoming clear the lineage of gods mentioned in the first time were black kings that Egyptian subjects honoured by painting theirs statues with black paints.
December 27th Annual Prayer Walk
Mount Kenya prayer walk from time immemorial appealed to different civilization with different theological concepts from anthropomorphic deities to mono deity. From 1210 AD Mount Kenya region witnessed a social and a religious revolution that brought down the 9 stones of worship of the nine gods of the First Time. Within the vicinity, the ark of covenant was put to rest to signify the embracing of mono deity. From this date the Mountain prayer became conspicuous but retained the very old ritual observation in making the seven stop over’s. The seven stop over’s is in reference to the seven firmaments or planets in our solar system that go round the sun. The hieroglyphic inscriptions in the pyramid of Unas 2300 BC some utterances speak of the sun god depicted as seated and being encircled by lesser gods who move around him constantly. The seven stars appear again in the bible, Revelation of John chap.1 ver 16-20 as the angels of the seven churches.
Pilgrims visited Mount Kenya throughout the year, but 27th December was regarded as the most appropriate because the twelve seers of the Mountain concluded their Mountain prayers on that date. Before the arrival of the white missionaries Gikuyu, Embu and Meru remained in their homes particularly on this date to join the seers and pilgrims in prayers.
Today Mount Kenya prayer walk takes local pilgrims a day, unlike before when the pilgrims took days to circumambulate the Mountain on foot.
Traditions required the pilgrims in their individual capacity to circumambulate Mount Kenya in total silence. The pilgrim was required as a rule to tie a blue ribbon on the wrist or neck or anywhere else that could be easily identified by the ordinary route users. This sounded a clear warning that the pilgrim was on a holy mission .Women throughout the route would bribe the pilgrims by placing food and water in designated caves for the pilgrims to eat before they retire to sleep. In reciprocation, pilgrims would remember the women in their prayers.
- Fasting – Stops or slows down metabolism toconcentration of one’s prayer’s in search of God.
- Renouncing of bodily pleasures – Concentration of one’s prayer’s in search of God.
- Dedication -Devotion to the worship of God. Throughout the routeprayers are regarded as the path to Gods glory.
The rule of keeping anti- clock wise motion as one circumambulates Mount Kenya reveals unprecedented cosmological wisdom possessed by African elders but lacking in many modern societies .The rite is as old as the African religion itself in a pristine way since God revealed the mysteries of the universe to them. One of such mysteries is heliocentric i.e. the earth and the planets in our solar system orbit the sun unlike geocentric as earlier thought by western civilizations. West was rescued recently from this mistaken idea by Galileo Galilei and his contemporary thinkers Copernicus .Circumambulating in anti-clockwise movement during prayers is an old possessed cosmological data that affirms all heavenly bodies, our solar system, our milk way and other galleries in the universe orbit in similar motion.
When anti-clockwise motion is observed during Mount Kenya prayers, the human nature is put under the influence of the law of omnipotent God that commands the movement of all heavenly bodies. The result of such mountain prayers has been known to create spiritual transformation to the devotee. Such spiritual phenomenon is hard to explain how it operates or occurs because it works and manifests itself from a different platform beyond the understanding of our human mind. The devotees in the Mountain prayers are spiritually captured by the influence of high altitude and the central position of a high land mass as they circumambulate the ring-like route. A similar but physical effect was well captured by Dr. Einstein’s 1916 theory of relativity. In summary, it shows that the planets orbit the sun because the sun mass causes space to curve or warp in the area surrounding it.
When Christianity was introduced in Gikuyu country in the early 20th century the Mountain prayers were regarded as heretical by all the white main stream churches. The early Gikuyu Christian converts were indoctrinated with sectarian opinion that what came from white missionaries was Godly and what came from African tradition was satanic. For fear of being expelled from the church, the only institution offering education to the community- they abandoned the prayers. In the early 1920’s the Gikuyu community realized the issue was not about Judaism – the Mount Kenya people’s religion, which they call Kirira but Western civilization versus African theology.
The social and religious unrest that followed paved the way for African independent schools and churches under the Gikuyu Karing’a banner. Unfortunately the Mountain prayers were not revived because of differences that emerged as a result of divisions among Christian denominations.
In 2008 the Gikuyu and Mumbi Cultural Museum revived the Mount Kenya prayer walk. The aim was to create tourism in form of pilgrimage.
In regard to the facts revealed that touch on Mount Kenya psychic values the Gikuyu and Mumbi Cultural Museum felt the need to revive the long forgotten Mountain prayers. So long Mount Kenya prayer walk remained central to the Kenya Africa psych; it is the ultimate role of the Museum to save this heritage from abuse of the western fathers of the Christian faith.
In 2008 the Museum resolved to revive Mount Kenya prayer walk purely on cultural bases aiming to open up Kenya as a world leader in pilgrimage.
It is not wise to involve the church only for them to question the legality of old mode of worship being introduced to their parishioners. The prayers were to be open to individuals’ church members who feel culture has a role to play in their modern way of worship. In unprecedented gesture the Muslim and Hindu devotees have been participating in the prayers.
A special committee was put in place to revive the Mount Kenya prayers to Kenyans for 5 years and thereafter put attention to the international pilgrims for another 5 years. It was mandated to disseminate all unknown wisdom touching on Mount Kenya through print and electronic media, social fora or any other way that would reach members of the public. This committee was given 5 years to report the progress. Its activities were sponsored by members of Gikuyu and Mumbi Cultural Museum, friends of the museum and well wishers.
After the 5th year of the Mountain prayers (2012), the implementation committee was found to have done an exemplary job. It was requested to widen her scope in the next five years to cover the world as the museum’s contribution to the vision 2030 global tourism.
In opening up the prayer walk to the outside world, guided estimates by international specialists in tourism planning and development indicate a rapid rise to one (1) million visitors in 5 years time. If this programme is properly maintained and managed there is a high likelihood of hitting more than 3 million pilgrims by the year 2030, the right direction to African renaissance.
Advisory from the working committee gives all international pilgrims an obligation to spend seven (7) days in the prayers walk.
During their 7 days prayer walk, pilgrims will be hosted by the local communities in their night stay.
- Kingship and the Gods, pp. 153-5.
Egyptian Mysteries, pp. 8-11.
New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, pp. 10-28.
Graham Hancock, Finger Prints of the Gods, chap. 44.
- The Gods of the Egyptians Volume 1, p. 443; Volume II, pp. 7,
Wallis Budge, Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection, Volume 1, p. 98.
Graham Hancock, Finger Prints of the Gods, Chap 48 pp. 463-4.
James Henry Breasted, Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt-New York.
- See Mount Kenya Water Tabernacle (MOUNT KENYA WATER TABERNACLE (KIGONGONA GIA KIRINYAGA – JUBILEE CEREMONY ) in the www.yamumbi.com.
- M.V Seton– Watson, Egypt Legends and Stories, Rubicon Press London, pp. 24-29.
A. Pochan, The Mysteries of The Great Pyramids pp. 196-2003.
E.A Wallis Budge, From Fetish to God in Ancient Egypt, Oxford University Press pp. 178-83.
- NA- a very old, archaic term for mother. Compare na with ninamother).
- From time immemorial many communities regard Mount Kilimanjaro as lifeless, violable and lacking in sacrosanctity.
- Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts (trans. R.O. Faulkner) Oxford University Press.
- Egyptian Book of the Dead (trans. E.A Wallis Budge).
- Henry Frankfort, Kingship and the Gods, University of Chicago Press, 1978.
- Michael Hoffman, Egypt before the Pharaoh, Michael O’mara Books, London, 1991.
- Veronica Ions, Egyptian Mythology, Newness Books, London, 1986.
- C. Kerenyi, The Gods of the Greeks, Thames & Hudson, London, 1974.