Chuka drummers

Drumming heroes

December 23, 2013

Dennis Dibondo

 As Kenya celebrates 50yrs since independence and celebrates the Maumau war veterans it is notable that the locals down here in Chuka, celebrates there drumming heroes who have remained the society entertainers for years locally and also internationally.

The group founded in 1942 by the late Ndei Mutaa, from Igaa village in Meru south Sub County of Tharaka Nithi County where it started by the name Mwinjiro.

 According to the group leader Mzee Eustace Njuki who was among the first members of the  drumming group, it  started with only 10 members where they came together  to entertain the community and spread the cultural songs to the new generations.

 “Whenever we began drumming and dancing the whole village would join in jubilation and people would dance to the rhythm for hours” Njuki said.

The group drew attention from the locality and in 1961 they ultimately landed a job to entertain European tourist who visited Mount Kenya through the Chogoria gate.

 “We would sing and marvel the whites with our skills some even collapsed with laughter at one time.” Njuki exclaimed with joy.

In 1962 the group enjoyed their publicity where they took their first trip outside the country when they were invited to perform in Tanganyika.

The group rose to fame as Kenya was attaining its independence and were invited to perform in state house Nairobi.

Mzee Njuki said that the group attained the first air trip in 1969 where they were going to perform in Nigeria and it was unbelievable since no member of the group has ever bordered the plane.

 The group later visited Greece in 1971 where they stayed and perform in Athens for two months before eventually flying back to the country.

In 1973 they visited Canada where they stayed and performed for two weeks. They landed another job in 1975 when they were employed by Taita Short Lake Hotel.

When former President Daniel Arap Moi was being inaugurated as the Chairman of OAU in 1981 they were called to perform to the 42 heads of state present at the function among them Julius Nyerere of Tanzanian, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

The group also had a chance to perform to the late former South African president Nelson Mandela when he visited the country in 1990.

I had travelled about 20 kilometers from Chuka town to Itugururu village where the group trains. On arriving there I found the members rehearsing. The group secretary Ngai Kenneth welcomes and orders a seat for me.

He gives me a brief introduction to the members and tells them the reason of my visit. “This is where we train called its ‘Kabaroni’ Ngai says pointing to a quarter acre piece of land with grass, it is in the middle of a maize and beans. Ngai inform me it’s the homestead of the group’s founder Ndei Mutaa.

I learn that the dancers wear ‘Thumbi’ a head gear made from ‘Nkoroi’ Columbus monkey skin, ‘Kithiri’ waist attire. They wear ‘Magemio’ around their shoulders made from Guinea Fowl they wore chains localy known as ‘ciumaa’.

 They are not complete without their drum kown as Mwinjiro made from carving Cyprus tree and goat skin. The drum is designed with colors that resemble the national flag of Kenya.


The group sings and dance and the group treasurer Micheni Ndei the group dances varies along different themes: ‘macia’ was performed during wedding ceremonies mugeni was performed during invitation of visitor. The changes and alternation of stanza is known ‘Kiraka’

The rhythyme according to Njuki pleases the heart.

The neighbouring Mbeere community also has a dance similar to the Chuka drummers only that it is known as ‘Ngootha’

Mzee Njuki says they have registered with the ministry of culture and issued with a certificate as culture contributors.

Njuki lamented their names has been used severally without the concept of the members. “We are the original Chuka drummers but we are informed that our name is being used without us knowing”

The members insisted that the ‘Chuka drummers’ at the Bomas of Kenya are not genuine.

Lack of funds has been a major problem that has crippled the group in poverty despite the name and recognition they have they lack a counsel to engage such pirates in a court of law. Poverty has also made the group to cope with the digital world since they do not have a CD.

The member say their name does not fit the money they receive and they feel forgotten by the government since they are living in deplorable state despite the fact of performing in many government function. “Most of us have even failed to educate their children” lamented Njuki.

The feel they have not been publicized since they struggle to get shows across the country since they do not have a manager.

I take time to ask the members who most of them are above 60 years keep up with the spirit since their dances mainly involve acrobatics. They tell me their diet is mainly yams (ikwa), traditional vegetables and the renown  staple food  ‘Mukimo’ that is eaten in Meru, Embu and Tharaka Nithi county.

The group is struggling to ream relevant and have been recruiting young dancers into the group.

Ngai Kenneth called on the county government of Tharaka Nithi to team up with them to explore and teach the youth about their songs and dances to protect the eroding culture of the government.

Njuki encouraged the youth to uphold the culture by singing traditional song and dances and say he was willing to teach the youth whatever he knows.


By Dennis Dibondo

Maara Deputy County Commissioner [DCC] Asha Kiiva has instructed chiefs and their assistants in Maara sub county to step up efforts to control illicit brews in this festive season.

She recalled that illicit brewers tend to brew more illegal brews to capitalize on drinkers who over indulge in Christmas period and exposing themselves to many healthy, economic and security dangers.

 Kiiva said that those found either brewing or consuming illicit brews should be arrested and prosecuted.

She ordered all chiefs and their assistants to step up measures to ensure that illicit brews were

Kiiva who was speaking at Nguruki Primary school during a baraza in the area cited Magutuni, Nguruki and Ciakanyinga trading centres as the most notorious.

She recalled that some parents indulged in drinking spree during festive season forgetting their parental responsibility like paying for their children school fees.

She urged all residents in the district to embrace the ‘Nyumba Kumi’ security policy for their own good.

She said that the policy was initiated by the government to address teething security problems in the country adding that it should be supported wholeheartedly.


Five die after lorry collides with Matatu
 By Dennis Dibondo

December 18 2013

Five people perished in a serious road accident in Maara bridge Embu- Meru highway  Tharaka Nithi county  yesterday evening after the matatu they were traveling in lost control and rammed into a lorry.
The occupants of the lorry escaped unhurt.

The matatu was heading to Meru and the lorry was ferrying goods to Nairobi.

Confirming the incident Maara police boss Njeru Njihia said the speeding driver of the matatu was avoiding a pot hole before he lost control and rammed into a lorry killing four on the spot. A teenager died while being treated  in Chogoria mission Hospital

Njihia said five including the driver  are admitted at Chogoria mission Hospital.”the driver and three other are in stable condition while one is ion critical condition.” Njeru said.

 Njihia urged drivers plying the route to observe moderate speed. “They should observe a speed of 80 km/h.” “The owners of the vehicles should not overwork the drivers”

He upheld the use of new alcoblow to curb the increasing number of accidents.

The bodies of those who died were taken to Chuka district hospital while the remains of the vehicle were towed to Ntumu police station.


By Dennis Dibondo

A non -governmental organization plans to spend 1.6 billion to plant trees in Meru and Tharaka Nithi Counties for the next 10 years.

The Greater Meru Greening Organization whose chairman is Marangu Mwenda intends to plant trees on all hill tops, schools, Hospitals, roadsides and markets in the two counties.

The organization secretary Riungu Gachira told the Star during an interview in Chuka town. He said a strategic plan had been drawn and work started.


 Gachira said so far members of the organization who include professionals have so far planted over 50000 trees in Thege and Kamundene and other areas in Meru County.


Gachira said his organization would soon start sensitizing members of public of importance and benefits of tree planting.


He called on Governors of 2 counties to consider funding his organization. The official said elders of the Njuri Nceke had pledged to supported reiterated their commitments towards conserving the environment.




Tharaka Nithi News


Tharaka MP Mburi Muiru has defended the government for spending 500 million on Jamhuri celebrations.

 Speaking in Kathwana Muiru said the day is very important for the country and it ought to be commemorated effectively as it reminds Kenyans the struggle against colonialists.“There is no country that cannot commemorate its birthday” Muiru said.

Muiru said the county of Tharaka Nithi County government should honor its Mau Mau heroes and award them for their efforts.

 Meanwhile Tharaka Nithi youth leader Naftali Kinyua has asked leaders to unit for the sake of the youths in the county.

 Kinyua said any he will lobby signatures from the youth to oust any leader who cripples youth agenda. “We will assemble the youth signatures and pass a vote of no confidence to impeach any leader who does not perform Kinyua said.

 He asked youths to form groups to reap from the Uwezo fund.




Cabinet secretary for sports, Culture and arts Dr Hassan Wario has urged the Tharaka Nithi county government to protect Historical sites in the county.

 Speaking in Chuka town Wario said Historical sites such as caves where Mau Mau freedom fighters hide, and other structures should be preserved. “These archives should be kept for future generations to learn and see history” Wario said.

 Wario said these archives should not be destroyed and surpassed by emerging structures. “I am not hindering development but it should be done in a way to preserve already what is there.”

 Wario urged residents to commemorate 50 years of independence by turning in large numbers during to show patriotism when the celebration officially commence on Jamhuri day.



President Uhuru Kenyatta has assured residents of Meru, Tharaka Nithi and Embu county that the government will soon embark on a major irrigation project to step up agricultural production in the area.


Speaking at Chuka University When he visited the area after commissioning a monument to commemorate 100 years since the town was established by the colonial government the president said the three counties were ideal for farming and irrigation could unlock the areas agricultural potential.


He said his government would fully implement the jubilee manifesto to ensure country’s rapid social economic development in line with millennium development goals and vision 2030.


 President Uhuru Kenyatta said these counties are very ideal for farming. “These counties can be great for green basket for the county,” Uhuru said.


The president declared that Chuka University will pilot a major irrigation project that will see residents benefit. The scheme is expected to feed water to semi arid areas in Tharaka north and south as well as the neighbouring Embu County.


He said the project will ultimately boost farming in the region as well as lead to growth of various towns across the three counties. “We do not intent to do residents a favour but it is their right” Uhuru said.


Uhuru urged residents to tap at the opportunity once it commences and boost the countries income which solely depends on Agriculture.


Uhuru cautioned those destroying water catchment areas in Mount Kenya to cease since farming greatly depend on rainfall. “Those who are destroying forests should stop”


He urged leaders in the counties to work together for realization of such projects since locals are greatly interested by developments of leaders irrespective of their position or caliber.




Picture: President Uhuru Kenyatta after commisioning monument on friday whith him is Tharaka Nithi senator Kithure Kindiki.