In his admirable study of the Mugwe, a religious dignitary among the Meru of Kenya, Bernardi reports a singular fact which raises a problem of comparative and theoretical interest: viz. that the left hand of the Mugwe possesses and symbolizes his ritual power. The issue is best seen, to begin with, in the following passage:
Among the Imenti [a sub-tribe] an unusual aspect of the people's conception of the Mugwe concerns his left hand. It is this hand…that should always hold the kiragu [insignia] and be used only to bless. It is a most sacred member of the Mugwe's body and no one is allowed to see it. During the day, the Mugwe spends his time playing kiothi, the Meru draughts, but even while he plays, he must always keep his left hand covered and no one must see it. Sudden death would overtake anyone who dared to look at the left hand of the Mugwe.