The joke that a Meru man will never hesitate when directed to slash someone has been told repeatedly, and it never gets stale.
The narrative of Meru people being easily angered has been recounted for ages. However, the question arises: are they different from other tribes in terms of anger management?
This joke has circulated widely and never fails to elicit laughter, even from Meru individuals who find themselves bursting into laughter each time it is retold. Some have gone to the extent of claiming anger and violence are part of the culture of the Meru, eliciting various reactions, including amusement.
This sentiment is expressed in various settings such as social events, political podiums, altars, and other county and national gatherings, always provoking laughter.
In a jesting manner, it portrays the idea that a man from Meru does not tolerate nonsense and would swiftly resort to inflicting harm with a sharp machete without concern for the consequences.
Most top Kenyan leaders are familiar with the joke and use it as the opening line when they visit Meru and always get the desired effect, a good laugh from the crowd.
Sample these: Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua attended an interdenominational prayer event at Laare in Igembe North, where he addressed President William Ruto, present at the gathering.
Gachagua said despite the Meru being a little hot-tempered, they were good people.
The Deputy President said he also had Meru blood due to his mother’s heritage, which, he humorously explained, was the reason why he sometimes had to “bare his claws” when driving the government’s agenda.
“I am one of them (Merus) because my mother came from here. That is why sometimes you see me bare my claws because of the Meru blood!” he said, sparking laughter.
Gachagua assured President William Ruto that the Meru people, while sometimes displaying a temper, meant no harm.
“They are good people,” he said.
A faithful people
President Ruto (then the DP), speaking at Madaraka Day celebrations at Kinoru stadium in Meru, addressing former President Uhuru Kenyatta, said, albeit in a light manner, that the Meru were a faithful people.
“We were told the Meru can be trusted, to the extent that you can instruct someone to ‘cut’ someone you have disagreed with and he will take a panga, do it, and ask what he had done (to deserve being cut) afterward!” said Ruto, drawing laughter from the crowd.
He said there was a level of loyalty in Meru county and the people were steadfast in their support for the retired president.
When Public Service CS Moses Kuria visited Meru recently when he was Trade CS to launch the construction of an agricultural aggregation and industrial park, he took the chance to preach unity among the Meru, as the differences between Governor Kawira Mwangaza, MPs, and MCAs escalated.
Dr. Kirimi Arimi, a lecturer of Criminology and Psychology, says incidents of violence in parts of Meru are worrying. He said it was a fact that violent crimes are prevalent hence the perception created about Meru people.