The Meru arrived in the area north-east of Mt Kenya from the coast sometime around the 14th century following invasions of that area by Somalis from the north.
The group was led by a chief known as the mogwe up until 1974 when the incumbent converted to Christianity and denied his son from inheriting the role.
A group of tribal elders (njuuri) were all-powerful and along with the mogwe and witch doctor would administer justice as they saw fit — which often consisted of giving poison-laced beer to an accused person.
Other curious practices included holding a newly born child to face Mt Kenya and then blessing it by spitting on it, and witch doctors might eliminate one of their rival’s sons by putting poison on the circumcision blade.
Subgroups of the Meru include the Chuka, Igembe, lgoji, Tharaka, Muthambi, Tigania and Imenti.