The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Mungiki Rebrands for 2012

Nairobi — MAINA Njenga wants to convert the six million youth he led in the Mungiki sect to join his new Amazing Grace International church.

In an exclusive interview with the Star yesterday, Njenga said he now wants to teach young people the true gospel and admitted he had misled them in the past.

He said his one-month-old church already has 10,000 followers and the number is expected to shoot up in the coming weeks with the opening of branches across the country.

The church has been meeting on an open ground behind the Labour Party of Kenya offices on Amboseli Road between Nairobi's Lavington and Kawangware estates.

Njenga describing as "primary school" the period when he led Mungiki youth to follow African traditional religion and pray facing Mt Kenya.

He said they now need to be converted to believe in the true God.

"I had a very big following of people to the tune of 5 to 6 million. We want these people to continue believing in God. I have to change their faith, I want to train them to become non-violent because I am a teacher, I am a doctor and I am an ambassador of peace," said Njenga.

"I have been teaching them about facing Mt Kenya, I have to go back to them and tell them that we were wrong in some ways. Let's start reading the Bible," he said.

Mungiki is a proscribed sect whose members are often accused of operating protection rackets in the matatu business and in the slums.

Njenga said he does not care whether the government puts his church under close scrutiny.

"It does not matter, governments come and go but people are the government. If people believe in what you are doing, nobody can oppose you," said Njenga at the LPK offices from where he now operates.

He accused some police officers of trying to preserve Mungiki sect because they have been the beneficiaries of extortion.

"The police cannot be happy when Mungiki is getting finished because they work with Mungiki. They are the people who organise those young groups to go to the matatu industry so that whatever cash they get they share," said the former Mungiki leader.

Since his release from prison last year, Njenga has become a preacher of peace and harmony while building a political empire behind the scenes comprising young people from Central, Nairobi and Central Rift Valley provinces.

Njenga, whose National Youth Movement for Yes mobilised five million youth during the August 4 referendum on the new constitution, is mapping out strategies to transform his church into a political party with civic, parliamentary and presidential candidates.

The movement has been converted into the Amazing Grace International.

Some of the leaders called themselves Warembo ni Yes during the referendum campaigns but are now calling themselves Warembo ni Yesu and leading groups in their respective constituencies.

Yesterday Njenga denied that he harboured political ambitions ahead of the 2012 elections.

"I don't have such ambition. I am not of the class of going to high places. I am a simple man," he said.

He said he quit Bishop Margaret Wanjiru's Jesus Is Alive Ministries after they disagreed on the new constitution. Wanjiru campaigned for the rejection of the new constitution while Njenga was in the Yes camp.

Njenga said he was still a personal friend of Wanjiru and campaigned for her during the recent Starehe by-elections where she recaptured her seat.

He added that his attempts to join other churches have been thwarted.

"If I go to any church, they do not give me time to talk about my salvation. They are afraid because I am going to influence their followers. Every time I go to their church, they feel threatened. We need to have our own independence," said Njenga.

Last Sunday, his church received visitors from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, Njenga said.

He said the Amazing Grace International has its roots in Washington DC in the USA.

Rev Grace Kariuki and her husband Richard Kariuki are founders of Amazing Grace International Ministries and Amazing Grace Children's Centre Outreach ministry based in Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa and Warrenton, Virginia in U.S.A.

Rev Grace is ordained by Northern Virginia Ministerial Association, Deliverance Church, Kenya and Faith Covenant Ministerial Association, USA. Grace holds a doctorate from Life Christian University and Seminary.

Grace relocated her family to USA in 1998 after teaching in public, private and Christian schools in Nairobi, Kenya. Between June 20 and July 20 this year, the Kariukis launched their ministries in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha.

Amazing Grace International Ministries provides shelter, clothes, food medical care and education to the orphans and the homeless children in the streets of Nairobi, Kenya.

The former Mungiki leader was arrested in February 2006 in a dawn raid at his Ngong home. In June 2007 he was sentenced to five years in prison, having been found guilty of having an illegal firearm and marijuana.

During 2007, a police shoot-to-kill policy led to the deaths of over 1000 suspect Mungiki members. In June 2008 while appealing the prison sentence, Njenga's wife Virginia Nyakio was carjacked on Langata Road, shot and her mutilated body was found in Gatundu.

On April 2009 Njenga was acquitted and immediately rearrested and charged with the murder of 30 people that occurred while he was incarcerated.

Six months later in October 2009 the state terminated the charges against him after he filed an affidavit with lawyer Paul Muite threatening to expose the politicians who had worked with Mungiki.

On coming out of jail, he went straight to Bishop Margaret Wanjiru's church, accepted the Lord and was baptised.

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