How Kikuyus attacked dreaded evil spirits

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Kikuyus believed the evil spirits were to blame for epidemics that failed herbal cures.

They feared them and to keep them away from the community a ritual was conducted.

At night when moon was out war horns were sounded signaling people to come out with all manner of crude weapons except spears, swords and knives as it was feared they would cause bloodshed of the spirits and this would draw bigger calamity.

With rungus and sticks they beat the bushes where such spirits were believed to hide. They screamed as they did so, heading towards the river.

Kikuyu elders doing some rituals. Such were done to drive away evil spirits. [Photo: Courtesy]
They all converged at the river where screaming reached climax, they made some utterances then threw their weapons into the river.

Smalls kids were shaved in a particular style to scare away remaining spirits.

They dusted their clothes and feet to remove remaining spirits. Then headed home singing happily.

They were not to look back not to bring the spirits back. The following day small children who did not take part in the ritual were shaved by their mothers leaving some hair that formed a cross on their heads to frighten wicked spirits. They were also painted with red ochre.

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