The man in the picture is King Yuhi V Musinga of Rwanda.
Syndicated story by PesaCheck.
This Facebook post claiming to show Ezekiel Ituika, the first Meru man to discover miraa in 1918, is FALSE.
It further claims that Ituika discovered miraa after chewing 1,000 different types of leaves.
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.
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 post is part of an ongoing series of PesaCheck fact-checks examining content marked as potential misinformation on Facebook and other social media platforms.
By partnering with Facebook and similar social media platforms, third-party fact-checking organisations like PesaCheck are helping to sort fact from fiction. We do this by giving the public deeper insight and context to posts they see in their social media feeds.
This fact-check was written by PesaCheck Fact-Checker Naomi Wanjiku and edited by PesaCheck Chief Copy Editor Rose Lukalo. The article was approved for publication by PesaCheck Managing Editor Enock Nyariki.
PesaCheck is East Africa’s first public finance fact-checking initiative. It was co-founded by Catherine Gicheru and Justin Arenstein, and is being incubated by the continent’s largest civic technology and data journalism accelerator: Code for Africa. It seeks to help the public separate fact from fiction in public pronouncements about the numbers that shape our world, with a special emphasis on pronouncements about public finances that shape government’s delivery of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) public services, such as healthcare, rural development and access to water / sanitation. PesaCheck also tests the accuracy of media reportage. To find out more about the project, visit pesacheck.org.
PesaCheck is an initiative of Code for Africa, through its innovateAFRICA fund, with support from Deutsche Welle Akademie, in partnership with a coalition of local African media and other civic watchdog organisations.