In the Kamba people group of Kenya, “kithitu” alludes to a sort of untouchable or revile that is accepted to have gone down through the ages. It is trusted that somebody has kithitu.
They might confront different adversities, diseases, or difficulties throughout everyday life. The impacts of kithitu are, in many cases, seen as an outcome of an individual or their family having disregarded specific social standards or familial traditions.
Those accepted to be impacted by kithitu could look for the assistance of customary healers or otherworldly pioneers inside the local area to perform ceremonies or functions pointed toward purging or eliminating the revile.
These customs generally include explicit practices, penances, or services to conciliate the spirits or predecessors and lift the revile. It means quite a bit to take note of those convictions in Kithitu.
And their belongings differ among people inside the Kamba people group, and not every person buys into or puts stock in these social translations. Furthermore, modernization.
And openness to other conviction frameworks has prompted a decrease in the impact of such conventional convictions in certain areas. The Kamba community had a unique way of seeking justice through the Kithitu oath.
This practice was taken seriously by those who felt that the traditional council of elders did not provide them with the expected justice. The Kithitu oath was introduced by a man who saw the wealthy.
And prominent people are taking advantage of the poor and refusing to pay them back. The oath was feared and taken seriously, and those who administered it had either lost their valuable items or had their livestock stolen.
The Kithitu oath was only cast by older men and women in the community, or those who had no families or were divorced and had no intention of getting a family back. It was believed that the oath could cause dangerous consequences, including the death of children and close relatives until the seventh year if not stopped.
Types Of Kithitu In Kamba Community
There are two ways in which Kamba individuals would look for equity in utilizing the kithitu.
- Muma: When someone in the family suspected that their belongings had been stolen, they would use the term “muma” to curse the alleged thief. Usually, they had a good idea of who the culprit was, but when confronted, the person denied any involvement. To cast the curse, a cooking pot would be taken and filled with various seeds. While uttering the curse, the pot would be lifted and then forcefully knocked down, causing it to break into pieces and scatter the seeds. This act was believed to bring a curse upon the entire family. The use of “muma” as a curse was widespread and accessible to anyone seeking justice.
- Uwe, the second kithitu, possessed an air of mystery and danger, capable of causing harm to individuals. To ensure safety, Uwe was secluded in various locations, such as bushes, under large rocks, or within caves. This practice was an ancient tradition, as the kithitu had the potential to harm not only the person it was directed towards but also the one administering it. The presence of Uwe posed a significant threat to families, even resulting in the deaths of children. In situations where individuals claimed that their belongings had been taken and were unable to retrieve them, the council would require them to confess by swearing an oath to Kithitu if they were not trusted. This oath was binding and irreversible. If someone were to lie, the kithitu would punish them instead of the suspected individual. However, the kithitu could not harm an honest person. Prior to invoking the kithitu, the complainant would give the accused approximately 30 days to return the stolen property. If the property was not returned within the given timeframe, the complainant would then take the oath.
The governance and control of Kithitu Uwe
In order to nullify the oath, a specific procedure had to be followed at a designated location. This involved removing all clothing and making small cuts on the private parts, extracting a small amount of blood, mixing it with herbs, and applying the mixture to a heated knife before reciting the oath.
It was crucial to be extremely careful, as any mistakes could have dire consequences, affecting not only the person who cast the spell but also their family members.
After the oath has been administered, it is necessary to perform a cleansing ritual.
Prior to the cleansing ritual, the council of elders would sacrifice a sheep as a symbol of peace. A specific portion of the sheep’s meat, known as muyoo, would be removed.
The remaining flesh would be buried by the elders. The cleanser, who inherited the role from their father, would utilize a mixture of the sheep’s waste and other traditional herbs to perform the cleansing.
Some of these herbs had an unpleasant odor and caused itching, but the victim’s family had to endure it all in order to attain freedom. Following the cleansing, married couples were prohibited from engaging in sexual activity for seven days.
After the ritual, the elders would take the instruments and herbs used in the oath of kithitu and dispose of them in the river. It was believed that the river would wash away all the misfortunes, ensuring the safety of the family.
To put it simply, Kithitu was a lethal vow of retribution that had the power to result in fatalities and violate human rights. It is imperative that we have faith in our judicial system.