Kikuyu are Kenya’s most populous ethnic group.


The Kikuyu People of Kenya

The kikuyu are Kenya’s most populous ethnic group. ‘Kikuyu’ is the anglicized form of the proper name pronunciation of Gikuyu. They are about 22% of the Kenyan population. Kikuyu have a number of myths of their origin like a popular one that claims that when the Gikuyu and Mumbis( this are the first kikuyu husband and wife) daughters came of marrying age, Gikuyu prayed to Mwene Nyaga (their God) to provide husbands for their daughters whom he duly provided by a fig tree.

Long ago the main economic activity for the kikuyu people was only in agricultural sector. They used to cultivate on the fertile central highlands where they had settled after migration from the Niger region.

This changed with time and from then on to now they are the most economically active ethnic group in Kenya. They also dominate Kenyan politics.

Kikuyu have tried as much as possible to maintain their culture. Most of them are the kikuyu from Nyeri, Muranga, Kirinyaga, and other places around the Mount Kenya region. They have cultural rites that run from circumcision, child naming, marriage, and even death. An example is during the circumcision they call in “irua”. Irua is a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood.

Girls and Boys are given lessons on Hygiene, Nutrition, Drugs, and HIV Aids etc by different professionals. Boys are then circumcised the Kikuyu way by a medial doctor. They are then taken care of for 7 days in the camp during which they are given lessons on how to become responsible adults. Thereafter they graduate and are given certificates.

The naming of the kikuyu children also has a process. They say that for every first born boy and girl, they have to be named after the parents of the husband. Children who will follow next will be named after the wife’s parents.

The names have their hidden meanings; there are some for courageousness, cowardice, clever and so on.

The kikuyu have songs which range from gospel to circular songs. The songs also have their concealed meanings.

There are songs that they refer to as ‘marebe’ these songs are meant to be for the older people in the kikuyu society. However, most of the kikuyu songs are for educating its people. This has led the kikuyu to establish local radio stations. The most famous kikuyu radio station is known as Inorro which is a language and cultural centre department which promotes linguistic and cultural diversity by ensuring preservation of Kikuyu language and culture.

When it comes to the kikuyu women, they are some of the most hospitable women in Kenya. If you are a woman they will welcome you in their homes, teach how to cook the kikuyu dishes as they would with their daughters, how to wash the utensils, and a lot of other things done in the kikuyu society. These women are also very meticulous would believe that their day starts at 5.00 am and ends at 12.00 pm? There are a number of famous kikuyu people such as Samuel Wanjiru the first gold medalist in Olympic marathon, Ngugi wa Thiongo an author and so many others.

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