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Ghosts Invade Kenyan Schools

By Tervil Okoko, PANA, 19 July 2000

NAIROBI, Kenya (PANA) - Two secondary schools in Kenya's Central province have been closed and students sent home following alleged invasion by ghosts, the Daily Nation has reported.

It indicated that ghosts allegedly invaded Gitogo Mixed Secondary School, about 120 miles north west of Nairobi Thursday night and first targeted boys, who were thoroughly beaten by the ghosts, causing a stampede. The school was closed Friday.

The area police chief, Michael Muthike, said the mixed school had been closed indefinitely. He could not, however, confirm or deny whether there were ghosts in the school.

"As for that (the presence of ghosts) I cannot comment authoritatively because I am not well versed in ghost matters," he said.

Muthike added the ghosts then invaded the girls' dormitory Friday night, showering the roof with a hail of stones. The girls, too, were sent home Saturday.

The school was completely deserted Tuesday when PANA visited the scene as the teachers were also said to have taken off in fear of being attacked.

In Lari division, less than 30 miles from Nairobi, more than 300 students of Kambaa Girls High School were sent home Sunday after an alleged attack by ghosts.

The students claimed that a senior member of the staff was linked to the evil spirits.

Claims of alleged invasion by ghosts is increasingly becoming a daily story in Kenyan schools, and religious leaders have taken a wide berth on the issue.

Already debilitated by an overloaded curriculum, schools in the country are perpetually living in fear of possible ghost attacks.

The most affected are boarding schools located in the countryside.

However, the authorities seem to have been caught unawares by the phenomenon.

On 3 July, students from Wang'uru Girls Secondary School, Kirinyaga district (113 miles north-west of Nairobi), stormed the office of the Central Provincial director of education protesting an alleged invasion of their school by ghosts.

The students said they were terrified by the alleged demons, which they claimed appeared in form of white cats and black snakes.

They further claimed the creatures, which run around their dormitories, had been introduced by their head-teacher.

Earlier in June, the member of parliament for Kandara constituency, Stephen Ndicho, asked the education ministry to resolve a long running dispute at Gathigi Primary school in Maragua District (about 35 miles north of Nairobi) where parents withdrew their children alleging the school had been invaded by ghosts.

Angry parents had stormed the school and took away their children for fear that they might be attacked by demons. The parents accused the head-teacher, his deputy, and an assistant teacher of being behind the school's invasion by evil spirits.

On 26 May, two pupils collapsed during a cleansing ceremony to rid the same school of an alleged ghost invasion.

The ceremony, conducted by Rev. Fr Elias Murithi of Gachanjoni Parish, ended in disarray when parents of the collapsed pupils attacked the gathering.

The pupils, however, regained consciousness. On 18 May, the Daily Nation carried a report saying a primary school in Kitui district, about 200 miles east of Nairobi, closed and more than 400 pupils sent home following alleged invasion by ghosts.

A school committee official was accused of having sent the ghosts.

Also in Kitui, pupils of Kathuma Primary School were sent home after demons allegedly invaded the school. The demons were said to have been strangling the helpless youngsters. y The parents and school committee consequently raised funds to hire a witchdoctor from the port town of Mombasa to exorcise the demons.

On 4 July 1999, Muthetheni Girls School in Machakos, about 60 miles east of Nairobi, closed after girls claimed attacks by unknown forces.

The girls said demons invaded their St. Theresa dormitory and allegedly raped and beat them up.

Education officials and the government are currently grappling with the problem. However, they are undecided on whether to employ the services of a ghost buster or just dismiss the claims as wild imaginations.

"An ominous sub-culture has crept in most secondary schools and this has put our nation's future at stake," Samuel Kariuki, a senior inspector of schools, said.

He added that the other members of this sub-culture are the touts (known for their rough mannerisms) and school drop-outs.

He claimed that the sub-culture is increasingly growing into a cult that would idolise rock musicians and confessed drug abusers.

Kenya's education minister, Kalonzo Musyoka, has dismissed claims of ghost invasion as fertile but dangerous imagination.

He blamed everything on the rise in drug use among school-going children, saying all the claims about ghost invasion is fantasy by drugged children.

Kalonzo also attributed the school closures to delinquency among students, saying if the students were more disciplined, there could be less interruptions in their study.

He called on parents to bring up their children well to make them responsible citizens.

However, the minister feels that there are some elements of witchcraft among the people and he cannot rule out the possibility of some wicked people trying to disrupt the normal running of schools.

He said the only solution to the problem could be to go to church and believe in God.

But there are also senior members of the society who believe in witchcraft and ghosts.

For instance, legislator Jembe Mwakalu, a man who at one time went public to claim that somebody had bewitched him, says the ghost invasions are real and Kenyans have to protect themselves against them by wearing protective charms.

Ann Wanjiku Ngatia, a 17-year-old student, who was sent away from school in October and missed her exams after having been accused of devil worshipping, believes devils are real and they normally like attacking a group of children, especially in a school dormitory.

But while claims of ghost attacks abound, ghost busters, fetched from as far as Vanga (120 miles south of Mombasa on the Kenyan-Tanzania border) and Tanga in Tanzania, are making a kill as they are called in daily by desperate clients to defray the effects of the demon attacks.