10,000 attend Kenya sect funeral, claim Christianity

NAIROBI — The founder of Kenya's former Mungiki gang, known for its beheadings, said at a funeral that gathered 10,000 people Saturday that the sect had made a new beginning by embracing Christianity.

Maina Njenga addressed the crowd at the funeral in Kitengela, south of the capital Nairobi, of his wife Virginia Nyakio whose mutilated body was discovered soon after she was kidnapped by unknown attackers in April 2008.

"This is a new beginning, let us forget the past," Njenga said. "The youth gathered here today have embraced Christianity... That is why we are conducting this burial in Christianity."

The Mungiki sect officially announced its dissolution in October last year, and its transformation into a political movement, with Njenga joining the Jesus Is Alive Ministries.

The sect had been a group of mainly unemployed youths who worshipped spirits in Mount Kenya and embraced rituals such as female circumcision, while also rejecting Westernisation and Christianity.

The group, which claimed to have been founded by Mau Mau fighters who fought British colonial rule, was banned in 2002 after becoming a powerful gang known for decapitating its victims but had continued to operate.