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Deceased herbalist leaves behind 151 children

A renowned traditional healer and polygamist from Meru County has died. Ayub Kathata,98, who claimed to have married 35 wives and 151 children took his final bow on Tuesday from an undisclosed illness at the Muthara District Hospital.

According to one of his sons, Mr Ramoh Kathata, his father had brought up a family of diverse professionals.

He was so famous that he was adversely mentioned in some lower primary Geography, History and Civics (GHC) books in the 1990s.

He was also popular for “healing” people believed to have been bewitched.

According to Mr Kathata who has taken over from his father, the old man embraced modernity and traditions in equal measure.

“His was an empire built around farming. He had more than 4,000 and 3,000 cattle and goats in various grazing areas in the region. He also boasted of more than 2,000 acres of land where most of his children have settled,” Mr Kathata said.

The old man cherished education. He founded and established Kaurine and Kina Primary Schools in Igembe Central.

“My father had children from class one to eight. Withdrawal of these children from schools would negatively affect the school’s population as most learners were his children,” Mr Kathata said during an interview the Nation at his home in Kiengu, Igembe Central.

To help him bond and keep track of his huge family, Kathata would always hold a party every December.

“Some of our sisters got married in Europe and others working there. To ensure that we knew each other, dad ensured there was a get together every Christmas day.


“As someone who has been given the responsibility of taking care of the family, I will ensure this continues,” he said.

Before he died, Kathata left a word of caution that all his children should respect their eldest brother who is now the head of the family. No one dared go against word.

A story is told of how one of his farmhands was instructed not to hurl stones at chickens in the farm.

He disobeyed the old man and was severely pecked on the head by the chickens. The employee resigned on the fateful day.

During the Shifta war, cattle rustlers always invaded his homestead to steal animals. He got overwhelmed and cast a spell on the attackers which confused them and they started attacking one another.

“Through apprenticeship, he learnt the art of healing from his father, Kiunga Munoru. He started practicing at a very early age,” he said.

According to Musa Kathata, another son, his father had started falling ill recently.

Musa said his father’s burial arrangements were in progress. He, however, could not reveal if there will be a unique send off.

“Our father was a symbol of unity in the society. He knew no boundary and even gave portions of lands to the landless,” he said.

He added that most of their siblings were Christians and only very few who were clinging to the traditions similar to those of their late dad. He said his demise had left a wide gap in the family which would not be filled easily.