Does This Photo Show Ezekiel Ituika, the First Meru Man to Discover Miraa in 1918?

By Naomi Wanjiku

This Facebook post claims to show Ezekiel Ituika, the first Meru man to discover miraa in 1918.

It further claims that Ituika discovered miraa after chewing 1,000 different types of leaves.


A Google reverse image search shows that Ituika is not the one whose photo is captured in the post. The image shows King Yuhi V Musinga of Rwanda.

Musinga was the son of King Kigeli IV of Rwanda, and he ascended to the throne from December 1896 to 12 November 1931. Musinga was a teenager when he ousted his brother, the then King Mibambwe IV Rutarindwa.

Several notable events coinciding with his reign include World War I, the 1928 to 1929 famine, extension of royal powers to independent areas, and the Belgian the take over of Rwanda from German colonisation.

Musinga was ousted by the Belgian administration after he refused to convert to Catholicism. He went into exile in Congo and died there in 1944.

As for the second claim that Ituika was the first Meru man to discover miraa in 1918, we could not find any record of that online. No article mentioning that name has been published online.

So, who then was the first Meru man to discover miraa? All the articles written on the origin of miraa in Meru and Kenya do not state which individual discovered it.

However, according to a research paper that was published in the Oman Medical Journal in March 2015, miraa (khat) use began in the 13th century in Abyssinia, current Ethiopia. Miraa use then spread to Yemen in the 15th century.

Another research paper defines miraa as an evergreen shrub that can be grown as a shrub or small tree. The origins of miraa are traced back to Ethiopia, East Africa. Miraa’s original name is Khat (Catha edulis).

The Agriculture and Food Authority states that Meru County started growing miraa in the early 19th century. The crop is now grown commercially in Ethiopia, Yemen, Kenya and Eritrea and used by 20 million people worldwide. In many parts of Kenya, miraa grows naturally but it is cultivated in large quantities in Meru, Tharaka Nithi and Embu counties.

Miraa is mostly chewed or taken in tea for functional or recreational purposes. The shrub’s consumption can cause mild euphoria and is said to help people stay alert.


PesaCheck has looked into a Facebook post claiming to show Ezekiel Ituika, the first Meru man to discover miraa in 1918, and finds it to be FALSE.

This story was produced by Africa Uncensored in partnership with Code for Africa with support from Deutsche Welle Akademie.

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