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Encyclopedia > Kikuyu
A Kîkûyû woman in traditional dress. Present-day Kîkûyûs dress in Western fashion.
A Kîkûyû woman in traditional dress. Present-day Kîkûyûs dress in Western fashion.

The Kîkûyû (Gîkûyû) are Kenya's most populous ethnic group. 'Kîkûyû' is the anglicised form of the proper name and pronunciation of Gîkûyû although they refer to themselves as the Agikûyû people. They total 7.4 million, equal to about 22% of Kenya's total population[1]. They cultivate the fertile central highlands and are also the most economically active ethnic group in Kenya. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (768x1024, 571 KB) Summary Licensing File links The following pages link to this file: KÄ©kÅ©yÅ© ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (768x1024, 571 KB) Summary Licensing File links The following pages link to this file: KÄ©kÅ©yÅ© ... Kenya has a very diverse population that includes most major language groups of Africa. ...

Contents

Origins

Although uncertain, ethnologists believe the Gîkûyû came to Kenya from West Africa (present day Cameroon) together with the other Bantu tribes. On reaching what is now Tanzania, they moved east past Mount Kilimanjaro and into Kenya, finally settling around Mount Kenya, while the rest of the group continued migrating to Southern Africa (to become present-day Zulus, Shonas, etc.) They were originally hunter-gatherers but unlike the Nilotic tribes who were pastoralists, they began farming the very fertile volcanic land around Mt. Kenya and the Aberdare Range. Map showing the approximate distribution of Bantu (dull yellow) vs. ... Kilimanjaro, formerly Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze, is an inactive stratovolcano in north-eastern Tanzania. ... Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya, and the second-highest in Africa (after Mount Kilimanjaro). ... This article is about the African ethnic group. ... Shona (IPA: ) is the name collectively given to several groups of people in Zimbabwe and western Mozambique. ... Nilotic refers to a number of indigenous East African peoples originating in northeast Africa in the region of the Nile River. ... Pastoralists are people whose main source of livelihood is livestock with which they move seasonally in search of fresh pasture and water. ... The Aberdare Range (formerly, the Sattima Range, Kikuyu: Nyandarua) is a 160 km long range of uplands in west central Kenya, north of the capital Nairobi, that forms a section of the eastern rim of the Great Rift Valley as it runs roughly north-south through East Africa. ...


However, Gîkûyû legends have it that in the beginning, a man called Gîkûyû and his "helper" or wife called Mumbi were placed on Mount Kirinyaga by God, Mwene Nyaga or Ngai. It was said that they were placed near the Mugumo or Fig tree upon the slopes of the mountain. They were to give birth to Nine daughters named, Wanjiku, Wanjiru, Wanjeri, Wambui, Wangari, Wacera, Waithera, Wairimu and Nyambura. It so happened that when they were grown up, they met nine young men from a distant land, (ostensibly Maasai, with whom Gikuyus have a long standing love-hate relationship) who married the girls and from whom the Gîkûyû nation arose. A popular myth claims that when Gikuyu's daghters came of marrying age, Gikuyu prayed to Mwene Nyaga to provide husbands for their daughters whom he duly provided by a fig tree. Species About 800, including: Ficus altissima Ficus americana Ficus aurea Ficus benghalensis - Indian Banyan Ficus benjamina - Weeping Fig Ficus broadwayi Ficus carica - Common Fig Ficus citrifolia Ficus drupacea Ficus elastica Ficus godeffroyi Ficus grenadensis Ficus hartii Ficus lyrata Ficus macbrideii Ficus microcarpa - Chinese Banyan Ficus nota Ficus obtusifolia Ficus palmata... Wanjiku is a common Gikuyu name from Kenya. ...


History

The Gîkûyû were generally on good terms with the Maasai – their neighbors, with whom they traded extensively. Colonialism, however, disturbed this order. Beginning in the 1880s, the British settled first on the coast and then in Nairobi, when building the railroad from the coast to Lake Victoria which travels into the neighbouring country Uganda. They confiscated land from the Gîkûyû, who were confined to a small reserve, unable to cultivate their land. Languages Maa (É”l Maa) Religions Monotheism Christianity The Maasai are an indigenous African ethnic group of semi-nomadic people located in Kenya and northern Tanzania. ... Lake Victoria and the Great Rift Valley Lake Victoria height variation The lake as seen from space, looking west, with other members of the African Great Lakes forming an arc in the middle distance. ...


Anti-colonialism

Gîkûyû political organisation grew rapidly in the 1920s as a response to social problems, land loss and colonial pressures. One moderately radical group, the Kîkûyû Central Association, was established in the 1920s under the leadership of young, mission-educated members including Jomo Kenyatta. Frustrations, anti-colonialism and internal divisions contributed to the Mau Mau uprising after World War 2, fought amongst the Gîkûyû central highlands from roughly 1952-1958. This divisive, dirty and violent war was fought mainly by guerillas in central Kenyan forests, including Dedan Kimathi among its leaders. Following massive detentions by the British and huge numbers of Gîkûyû deaths - mostly from internal fighting - the Mau Mau was a major contributor to moves for Kenyan independence. Jomo Kenyatta Jomo Kenyatta (October 20, 1893 ?– August 22, 1978) was a Kenyan politician, the first Prime Minister (1963–1964) and President (1964–1978) of an independent Kenya. ... Combatants Mau Mau British Empire Commanders * Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi * General China (Waruhiu Itote) * Stanley Mathenge * Evelyn Baring(Governor) * General Sir George Erskine Strength Unknown 10,000 regular troops (Africans and Europeans) 21,000 police, 25,000 home guard[1] Casualties 10,527 killed in action;[2] 2,633 captured... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... Dedan Kimathi Waciuri (October 31, 1920 – February 18, 1957) was a Kenyan rebel leader who fought against British colonization in Kenya in the 1950s. ...


Post-independence

Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's first president, was a Gîkûyû. Kenya's third president is also a Gîkûyû named Mwai Kibaki who won the 2002 elections in a landslide against Uhuru Kenyatta, son of the first president, despite outgoing president Daniel Arap Moi's support for Kenyatta. Wangari Maathai, Africa's first female Nobel Peace Prize winner, is a Gîkûyû, as is the famous Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong'o, who now writes exclusively in Gîkûyû and Swahili. John Githongo, the former anti-graft advisor to the president, now since 2005 self-exiled in Britain, is a Gîkûyû. Famous Kîkûyû sports stars include: Julius Kariuki, the 3,000m steeplechase 1988 olympic champion; John Ngugi, 5,000m 1988 Olympic champion; Douglas Wakiihuri, a Nagoya and London Marathon Champion; Catherine Ndereba, the Boston and Chicago marathon champion and Charles Kamathi, the 2001 world champion at 10,000m. The Gîkûyû have continued to play vital roles in independent Kenya's political and economic development. However, it is not uncommon to hear negative commentaries in the local media of the involvement of Gîkûyûs in government affairs. Jomo Kenyatta Jomo Kenyatta (October 20, 1893 ?– August 22, 1978) was a Kenyan politician, the first Prime Minister (1963–1964) and President (1964–1978) of an independent Kenya. ... Mwai Kibaki (born November 15, 1931) is Kenyas third president, an economist, and a political leader. ... Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta (born October 26, 1961) is the leader of the Kenya African National Union (KANU), the former ruling party of Kenya. ... Daniel Toroitich arap Moi (born September 2, 1924) was the President of Kenya from 1978 until 2002. ... Wangari Maathai Wangari Muta Maathai (born April 1, 1940 in Ihithe village, Nyeri District) is a Kenyan environmental and political activist. ... NgÅ©gÄ© wa Thiongo signs copies of his new book Wizard of the Crow. In London at the Congress Centre in central London. ... Gikuyu (sometimes written Kikuyu, pronounced Gĩkũyũ) is a language in the Central Bantu branch of the Niger-Congo family spoken primarily by the Kĩkũyũ people of Kenya. ... Swahili (also called Kiswahili; see below for derivation) is a Bantu language. ... John Githongo (b. ...


In the Gîkûyû land there is a very diverse history of how people lived. One is the form of entertainment in those days. The Gîkûyû young women and men could travel to isolated areas for dance and feasting. Most of the songs they used to dance to are in generation revival in modern bars and clubs. The discipline however was observed and no man was supposed to touch a lady sexually. The young men only enjoyed the dance and they had the chance to mingle with the beautiful young ladies who would eventually become their suitors.


The common dances were Nguchu, Nduumo, mugoiyo and ndachi ya irua (circumcisional dance). The grandmothers had a critical role of checking if any man unwound the inner garment of the young ladies. This garment was called muthuru. The grandmothers or cucus, tied it safely to protect any promiscuity in young women. Any women who engaged in sex before marriage affairs, and got pregnant could only be married as a second wife and they were commonly referred to as Gichokio. Therefore the Gîkûyû customs protected the interests of young people against abuse. It also ensured some form of entertainment was prepared and young people carried forward the practices from generation to generation.


The most memorable men in the early Gîkûyû history were Wangombe Wa Ihuura who killed a man-eating leopard with his bare hands. The other man was Wamugumo. This man could sink to the bare earth a 3/4 height of traditional Gîkûyû hunting spear. His eating habits were hilarious. In other words he was a giant sized man compared with ordinary and legendary Gîkûyû people.


Language

Kîkûyû speak Gîkûyû, a Bantu language, as their native tongue. Additionally, many speak Swahili and English as well, the national and official languages of Kenya repectively. The Gîkûyûs are closely related to the Embu, Mbeere and Meru people who also live around Mt. Kenya. The Gîkûyû from the greater Kiambu and Murang'a districts commonly referred to as the Kabete subtribe of the Gîkûyû's is closely related to the Maasai due to intermarriege prior to colonization. Hence the Sub Tribes that retain much of the original Gîkûyû heritage reside further up Mt. Kenya, namely the Kirinyaga and Nyeri Regions of Kenya Gikuyu (sometimes written Kikuyu, pronounced Gĩkũyũ) is a language in the Central Bantu branch of the Niger-Congo family spoken primarily by the Kĩkũyũ people of Kenya. ... Map showing the approximate distribution of Bantu vs. ... Swahili (also called Kiswahili; see Kiswahili for a discussion of the nomenclature) is an agglutinative Bantu language widely spoken in East Africa. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ...


Religion

(NOTE: This section describes spiritual practices of the Gîkûyû in the pre-colonial period. Modern Gîkûyûs are predominantly Christian)


The Gîkûyû religion is monotheistic. According to legend, Ngai (The Provider or The One Who Distributes, the creator worshipped also by the Maasai and Kamba), resides atop Kîrînyaga, known as Mount Kenya.[1] According to tradition, Ngai created the land and gave it to the people, creating an inseparable bond between man and land. Other important aspects of Gîkûyû tradition include the value of ancestry and the forest. In present day, 73% are identified as Christian [2], causing a decline in 'traditional' beliefs. In theology, monotheism (Greek μόνος(monos) = single and θεός(theos) = God) is the belief in the existence of one deity or God, or in the oneness of God. ... Ngai (Enkai, En-kai, Engai, Eng-ai, Mweai, Mwiai) is the supreme God in the monotheistic religions of the Kamba, Kikuyu and Maasai tribes of Kenya. ... Languages Maa (É”l Maa) Religions Monotheism Christianity The Maasai are an indigenous African ethnic group of semi-nomadic people located in Kenya and northern Tanzania. ... There is also Kemba in Gabon, see Kemba, Gabon Mukamba, pre 1923 The Kamba (Mukamba in singular, Akamba in the plural) are a Bantu ethnic group who live in the semi-arid Eastern Province of Kenya stretching east from Nairobi to Tsavo and north up to Embu, Kenya. ... Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya, and the second-highest in Africa (after Mount Kilimanjaro). ...


The name Kîrînyaga is composed of two Gîkûyû words - kîrî, meaning 'the one with', and nyaga, meaning ostrich (referring to the mountain's semblance to an ostrich, with its white snowcap and black volcanic rock body); thus, the full name Kîrîma (mountain) Kîrînyaga means the mountain with the ostrich. British colonialists were not able to pronounce the name Kîrînyaga, which they corrupted as Kenya.


The first British "explorer" who "discovered" the mountain was escorted by a porter from the Kamba tribe, neighbours to the Gîkûyû. When the man marveled at the mountain, pointing at it, the Kamba porter responded "Kiima Kii- nyaa". Now, Kambas do not have the "r" and "g" in their alphabet, hence this porter could not pronounce correctly "Kîrî-nyaga". The British explorer heard "Kee-Nyaa" and recorded it as such. Eventually the country was named after the main landmark of central Kenya.


Ngai is sometimes called Mwene-Nyaga, or owner of the ostrich.


Social structure

There was also religious Gîkûyû prophet called Mugo wa Kibiru who prophesied the coming of the Europeans many years before they arrived in the coast lines. It was said that there will come people of a different native, having the color of Kiuura kya marigu-ini "the pale colour of the feet". This depicts something close to the native white color. He also predicted the arrival of aeroplanes, "like butterflies in the sky".


The Gîkûyû tribe had a patriarchal revolution during the reign of Wangu Wa Makeeri. This lady held meetings seated on a man's back. According to one version, the revolution took place when Gîkûyû men organized to have all the women dance naked in a Kibaaata dance. The women refused and the Gîkûyû men took the rule to themselves. In another, the men synchronized copulation such that all fertile women fell pregnant around the same time. This made them vulnerable and unable to carry out leadership duties.


The Gîkûyû man is referred to as a muthuuri (meaning someone who can choose or discern evil from good) and woman called a mutumia (meaning someone who retains family secrets and practices) lived in a traditional huts. These huts had a very interesting way of controlling temperatures. During cold season they would be very warm. In hot season the hut would be cool. The hut for the man who would have several wives was called Thingira. Here the man would call his kids for lectures on family norms and he would also call his wives for serious family discussions. In ordinary days the man would invite his age mates of his riika(age group) to a horn/ruhia of traditional beer (Njoohi) called muratina,an alcoholic drink made from sugar cane and the muratina fruit. The Gîkûyû had a very deep way of controlling the age gaps in their children. A father would only get another child to the same wife, after the mother sent the kid to look after the goats a practice called (Guthii ruuru). Ruuru is a collection of goats and sheep or commonly referred as herding. The other interesting practice was the practice of sharing wives. Today it's called swinging. Then it was called kuithiya. The owner of the thingira would raise into song once he neared his homestead after a drinking ceremony. This would serve as an alert to any stranger in the homestead and he would then disappear into the darkness safely. This practice was allowed to break curses and inheritable genes in a family line. Colonisation eroded many practices and values although the language evolves into the future. Many Agîkûyû have moved from their traditional homeland to other parts of the world through intermarriages, business opportunities, fields of study, seeking better prospects in life, etc. Those living in rural areas tend to continue to practice farming. Many Gîkûyû have, however, moved to the cities to find jobs.


Selected Literature

  • Lonsdale, John, and Berman, Bruce. 1992. Unhappy Valley: conflict in Kenya and Africa. (J Currey Press)
  • Lonsdale, John, and Atieno Odhiambo, E.S. (eds.) 2003. Mau Mau and Nationhood: arms, authority and narration. (J. Currey Press)
  • Lambert, H.E. 1956. Kikuyu Social and Political Institutions. (Oxford U Press)

List of prominent kikuyus

  • Jomo Kenyatta 1st President
  • Mwai Kibaki 3rd President
  • Wangari Maathai Nobel Laureate
  • Dedan Kimathi Field Marshall and Inventor of dreadlocks
  • Ngugi wa Thiongo Scholar
  • Sir Charles Njonjo Former Attorney General
  • John Ngugi
  • Dr Josephat Karanja Former Vice President
  • Catherine Ndereba Athelete
  • Harry Thuku
  • Dr Julius Gikonyo Kiano First PhD in Kenya
  • Bildad Kaggia
  • Josiah Kariuki
  • General China
  • Stanley Mathenge
  • Kenneth Matiba
  • Charles Rubia
  • Meja Mwangi
  • The Gathegi Family
  • Paul Muite SC, Idealist Advocate
  • Dr Gibson Kamau Kuira SC, Jurist
  • John Gikonyo SC, Director, Central Bank of Kenya
  • Prof Njuguna Ndung'u Governor, Central of Bank of Kenya
  • David NjorogeBoard Chairman, Standard Chartered Bank
  • David Wachira MD, Consolidated Bank of Kenya
  • James Macharia MD, NIC Bank
  • Gideon Muriuki MD, Co-operative Bank
  • James Mwangi MD, Equity Bank
  • T Wainaina MD, Family Finance Building Society Ltd.
  • James Macharia MD, National Industrial Credit Bank Ltd.
  • [ Muthoni Kuria]] MD, Southern Credit Banking Corp. Ltd
  • Frank Ireri MD, Housing Finance Ltd.
  • Erastus Mureithi Chairman, Kenya Flower Council
  • Amos Kimunya Chairman of Muithaiga Country Club and Finance Minister
  • George Muhoho MD, Kenya Airports Authority
  • Eddy Njoroge KenGen MD
  • Jimnah Mbaru Nairobi Stock Exchange Chairman
  • Mbiyu Koinange Kiambu Mafia
  • Senior Chief Koinange
  • Senior Chief Waruhiu
  • Waiyaki wa Hinga Baron of Dagoretti
  • John Gakuo Nairobi Town Clerk
  • Dick Waithaka Mayor of Nairobi
  • Andrew Ngumba Former MP
  • Beth Mugo MP
  • Margaret Kenyatta Former Mayor of Nairobi
  • Rose Waruhiu EAC MP
  • Martha Karua Minister for Justice & Constitutional Affairs
  • Joseph Kamotho of the "Baba na Mama" fame
  • Prof Kinuthia George Saitoti Minister for Education
  • Chris Murungaru
  • John Githongo

Jomo Kenyatta Jomo Kenyatta (October 20, 1893 ?– August 22, 1978) was a Kenyan politician, the first Prime Minister (1963–1964) and President (1964–1978) of an independent Kenya. ... Mwai Kibaki (born November 15, 1931) is Kenyas third president, an economist, and a political leader. ... Wangari Maathai Wangari Muta Maathai (born April 1, 1940 in Ihithe village, Nyeri District) is a Kenyan environmental and political activist. ... Dedan Kimathi Waciuri (October 31, 1920 – February 18, 1957) was a Kenyan rebel leader who fought against British colonization in Kenya in the 1950s. ... NgÅ©gÄ© wa Thiongo (born January 5, 1938) is a Kenyan author, formerly working in English and now working in GÄ©kÅ©yÅ©. His work includes novels, plays, short stories, essays and scholarship, criticism and childrens literature. ... Charles Mugane Njonjo (born 1920) is a former Kenyan Attorney General (1963 – 1979), and Minister for Constitutional Affairs (1980 – 1983). ... John Ngugi (born May 10, 1962) is a former Kenyan athlete, winner of 5000 m at the 1988 Summer Olympics. ... Dr. Josephat Njuguna Karanja (? - 1994) was a Vice-President of the Republic of Kenya between 1988-1989. ... Catherine Ndereba (born July 31, 1972) is a world class Kenyan marathon runner. ... Harry Thuku was born in 1895 in Kenya into the Kikuyu ethnic group, one of the groups that lost the largest amount of land to white settlers during the British takeover of Kenya. ... Josiah Mwangi Kariuki (March 21, 1929–March 2, 1975) was a Kenyan socialist during the reign of Jomo Kenyatta government. ... Waruhiu Itote (General China) (b. ... Kenneth Matiba fought for Democracy in Kenya. ... Charles Rubia was the first African Nairobi mayor. ... Born in 1948 in Nanyuki, Kenya, Meja Mwangi studied upto his A Level in Kenyatta College. ... Amos Kimunya was born in 1962 in Embu, Kenya. ... Martha Wangari Karua (1957-) is a Kenyan politician, and until now she is Cabinet Minister in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. ... George Saitoti (1945-) is a mathematician, politician, and former Vice President of Kenya. ... Dr. Christopher Ndarathi Murungaru (Born 1954) is a Kenyan politician, a Member of Parliament for Kieni Constituency in Nyeri District and the Minister of Transport. ... John Githongo (b. ...

Rich List

  • Stanley Githunguri Tycoon
  • Peter Kuguru Industrialist
  • Uhuru Kenyatta
  • Njenga Karume Chairman of Molo & Kentmere Clubs
  • John Michuki KCB Director & Chairman of Windsor Golf & Country Club
  • Duncan Ndegwa Former CBK Governor
  • Dr Joe Wanjui Industrialist
  • Peter Kanyago
  • Stanley Murage Contactor
  • Nathaniel Kang'ethe
  • Jeremiah Kiereine

Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta (born October 26, 1961) is the leader of the Kenya African National Union (KANU), the former ruling party of Kenya. ... John Njoroge Michuki (1932 - ) is the Kenyan internal security minister. ...

Notes

  1. ^ CIA Factbook figures retrieved on May 28, 2007

May 28 is the 148th day of the year (149th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ...

External links

  • Mûûgî nî mûtaare
  • Kikuyu Language: A Simple Analysis
  • Kikuyu Names
  • Kikuyu.com
  • Kikuyu origin

 
 

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