Brutal Gangs: Mungiki
Most criminal organizations and gangs specialize in a limited number of activities. Favorites include drug trafficking, prostitution, and extortion. The Mungiki, however, are up to their necks in all of these, plus counterfeiting, unlicensed taxis, and public restrooms. Yes, they post a guard on public restrooms and charge for the privilege of using them. They also dabble in casting spells and human sacrifice.
It’s a mystery how the Mungiki got their start. The truth is that nobody was really keeping an eye on the slums of Kenya in the late 1980s, so stories about their beginning are hard to come by.
It is known that by the early ’90s, the Mungiki had dominated the freelance taxi market in Nairobi. Using a great deal of slaughter and occasional negotiations, the Mungiki swept over the glamorous trades of waste disposal, construction, and racketeering. It’s estimated that the group presently has perhaps 100,000 members.
Over time, the group moved into really weird territory. Part criminal gang, part political party, and part mystery cult, the Mungiki have a reputation for squeezing what little money they can out of millions of ordinary Kenyans. They also fight the Maasai and various pro-government groups. In 2007, Kenyan authorities accused members of the group of beheading and mutilating a two-year-old boy as part of a magic ritual.
It’s worth noting that those same Kenyan authorities have come unhinged in their war on the Mungiki gangs and killed about 12,000 people accused of being part of the group in episodic crackdowns over the years.
Next up: Even the marines who arrest them will hide their own faces in fear…