By Johnson ChengoCalamities may befall the Kilifi county residents following the destruction of baobab trees by foreign, the Mijikenda Council of elders in Kilifi County have warned.
The Council said baobab trees are sacred and used as worshiping areas by many communities not only the Mijikenda.
They condemned western countries for corrupting the Mijikenda culture.
“They started with dressing and they have corrupted how our people dress. They are now turning to our faith and religion. Baobab trees are important trees to us because this is where we worship. They are our altar. We do not want people to interfere with them,” said Kazungu Hawerisa.
Kilifi county Kaya elders chairman Hillary Mwatsuma said the county is already facing a myriad of calamities including drought due to the destruction of biodiversity.
The Kaya Kauma elder said that something needs to be done urgently to avert the suffering.
“This year we have witnessed one of the worst droughts. People have gone without food for days. Some have lost their lives and this is because the land has been destroyed. We need to cleanse our land for prosperity and those behind the uprooting of these sacred trees should bear the coast,” he said.
Mijikenda Kaya elders association coordinate Tsuma Nzai said if their demands will not be met them they will have no option but to lay a curse on those who took part in uprooting the trees.
“We will place a curse on those who took part in destroying our culture. The same way we did to vigango is the same thing we will do now,” said Nzai
In the 1980s and 90s, several memorial totem effigies (Vigango) were stolen from graveyards in the coast region and ferried to museums in Europe but were later returned after claims that they were ‘disturbing’ those who bought them.
The totems are still with the National museums of Kenya and are yet to be reunited with their families
Kaya Rabai elder Daniel Mwawara said elders will not take part in any research from any professionals because the same people they help in researching about their culture are the same who go against it.
Pwani University don Halimu Shauri said the destruction of the baobab trees was unfortunate and an affront to the mitigation of climate change.
The professor of sociology said the baobab tree can live for hundreds of years and its undergrowth can grow to a big forest.
“The Mijikenda have both spiritual and emotional attachment to this tree. Taking it away from them is far too much. They have been conducting their prayers in these trees and it is an abuse to now uproot them to other areas,” he said.
Shauri said the baobab fruits is a good source of calcium and iron.
The Mijikenda community also use decomposing branches of the tree to grow mushrooms.
Kilifi Governor Gedion Mung’aro warned residents who sell the trees that legal action would be taken against them.
Mung’aro said that there are the county environment department to cut down any kind of indigenous trees will issue no licenses.
The governor has asked all residents to cooperate with the government to ensure they protect the environment.
A Georgia tycoon had allegedly acquired licenses to uproot and transport eight baobab trees from Kilifi to plant them in a park in Georgia.
The licenses were revoked after an uproar and the already uprooted baobab trees are yet to be transported outside the country.