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Mast protesting Kenyan style: curse them!
Kenya Created: 26 Oct 2007
Elders of the Kikuyu tribe in Kenya are to curse anyone they deem to have desecrated a sacred hill after enduring 20 years of logging, tea planting and the erection of a mobile phone mast.

The Kikuyu, the country's dominant tribe, believe that God uses Karima Hill as a stepping stone on his walk to Mount Kenya each day.

Rather than pusuing their grievance through the courts, the elders have gathered this week in a nearby town to plan the curse that will punish the wrongdoers.

Karima Hill has two sacred sites that are traditionally used for ceremonies to bring rain, cure illness, and stop insect invasions.

The hill is also a potent reminder of persecution the Kikuyu suffered under colonial rule after the government burned its forests in the early 1950s to flush out Mau Mau fighters.

But Kikuyu leaders say the last 20 years have seen Karima Hill devastated by the planting of foreign trees such as eucalyptus and cyprus, which have dried up nearby streams.

The trees are then cut down for use by a local tea company which paid the county council for an 80-acre concession.

Three years ago a mobile phone company was given permission to build a network tower on the hill.

"This is real, it's no joke," said Kariuki Thuku, who works for an environmental group called the Porini Trust, which is helping to organise the tribal gathering.

"Everyone is worried. Already some who have been employed by the tea factory, they cannot go there again. They said 'no, no'.

"It has caused panic everywhere."

Elders across Kenya's ethnic groups have long used curses, and witchcraft is seen as a powerful force.

Two years ago elders cast a curse to protect the Giitune Forest in the Meru region.

They said anyone who logged in the forest would be bitten by a snake and turned to humus.

"Why not go proper indigenous, because that is the language that the communities have spoken?" said Mr Thuku.

"We are literally offending thousands of species when we destroy the ecosystem."

Mr Thuku said local officials told him that they have every right under law to cut down trees on the hill.

At the same time, he said they have pleaded with him to call off the cursing ceremony.

"This is what I'm telling them - you are cowards, you are fearing the curse so much but then at the same time you don't want to stop the logging immediately," he said.

"You must subscribe in one law, you can't be in the two at the same time."

Details of the meeting this week have been kept top secret. But Mr Thuku said a cursing ceremony would probably be held in December.
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Source: The Telegraph, Nick Wadhams, 26 Oct 2007

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