Margaret Njambi, the witchdoctor Jomo Kenyatta loved

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Njambi was not only treated as a traditional healer, but a seer as well and was in high demand from tribal leaders who consulted her during calamities and to ward off evil spirits. Njambi was said to have helped the Mau Mau top brass during the freedom struggle and that was how her fame spread and came to the attention of Jomo Kenyatta, who headed the Githunguri Teachers Training College, Kenya’s first indigenous college. But Muui, her father, declined Jomo’s advances on his daughter to be his second African wife, as he had already received bride price from her husband.[B]Margaret Njambi in her old age.[/B]
One of Njambi’s grandchildren told The Nairobian that, “Kenyatta left a disappointed man but our grandfather was a strict adherer to Kikuyu traditions and could not allow it, and neither refund bride to his in-laws. Njambi went back to her late husband and sired two sons but she remained a close friend of Kenyatta and his wife Grace Wahu.”

In her rituals, she demanded Sh100 note and three Sh1 coins bearing Kenyatta’s portrait that she tossed “send her clients to get seven small sticks, which she smeared with her saliva then tossed. If the sticks separated, she would tell if one needed to pray to their God or seek forgiveness from people they wronged,” said a relative.

Those with serious problems like curses, robbery or murders would be directed to scoop soil from a road junction and strings from busy markets for secret rituals. Njambi’s paraphernalia remained a secret, but some of the stuff The Nairobian bumped into before her burial include calabashes, porcupine spikes, skin of a primate, old coins, a mirror and leg of a sharp-clawed bird. Locals knew her as a medicine woman who woke up at 3am to pray, a fact acknowledged by locals and clerics from Anglican Church of Kenya who presided over her burial, albeit castigating her occupation.

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Evangelist Titus Mburu told the mourners he witnessed her pray for an hour but that Njambi “never mentioned Jesus Christ. She spoke of God of Kirinyaga,” Mburu recalled, adding that he was once told by Njambi that, “I don’t go for your followers. They come on their own, including your Mother’s Union members at your church in Kinoo and line up here”.

Though on many instances she charged Sh103, save for huge tasks like warding off curses, protection of one from enemies would cost between Sh700 and Sh2,000. Cucu Njambi or Njambi Mundu Mugo (witchdoctor), as she was fondly known, did not die a poor woman. Her two-storey buildings were built by an Asian man whose wife she helped conceive and the other by a local businessman she helped win a court case. A German connected tapped water to her home.

“When their problems were solved, they came back with gifts. Some promised to buy her a car but she declined. A client bought her a Sh85,000 iPad but it was stolen and she did not care to follow it up. She did not know how to use it,” said a grandson, adding that “notable figures have been here but we prefer to keep such details a secret.[B]Njambi’s home in Muthiga, Kiambu.[/B]
“They attended the funeral and others paid her visited her in hospital and gave her lots of money. Her house has dozens of bedsheets, blankets and pricey things”.

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Njambi also left behind mabati rental houses with income of Sh50,000, prime land and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of cash in a bank account of a friend she trusted. Attempts to coax her to write a will on her deathbed bore no fruit. Interestingly in 1994, Njambi was injured by her cow and sought help from a witchdoctor but fell in the hands of a con who alleged she had broken glasses and dung beetle in her body. She lost Sh700 to him and decided to get treatment from a hospital, the first time she stepped inside one.

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