AMAZING TALES OF KENYAN COMMUNITIES
In a society where making ends meet is what we are all thriving to do every passing day, it is only just to explore the world and we give ourselves a break from the obvious way of life. Kenya is one of the ideal places in the world to tag a friend, family or soul mate for one exquisite vacation in the uncountable refreshing sites that quenches your fantasy. Each single time you have dreamt of, from soothing waters to breathtaking vast wildlife, to a busy leafy accommodative city center. So, what’s your dream vacation like? Is it sunbathing in white sandy beaches? Is it a break from your normal homemade food or same cereals to scrumptious bites of our signature Nyama Choma? Is it spending your evenings watching the last rays of the sun strike your face gently during sunset? Or is it listening to amazing mythical folklores behind every community and culture, whereby this kind of art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life? How do you want to spend your holidays? Either way, in Kenya, kindness and love is a fruit in season every time and in reach of every hand, home away from home.
On the foot of the snowcapped second highest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kenya, inhabited the Gikuyu community. The Maasai to the south, the Kamba to the south east and the Embu and Meru to the north were their immediate neighbors, to trade and intermarry. History traces back the Gikuyu origins from the greater Bantu people migration in Africa. They are the largest ethnic group in Kenya.
The Gikuyu myth of origin relates to the Garden of Eden scenario in the bible, it is said that the first man, Gikuyu walked with Ngai, God, Mwene Nyaga. The scene starts at the top of the ‘mountains of God’, Kirinyaga generally known as Mt Kenya. This was where god showed the first Gikuyu man the land below and instructed him to go to a specific spot to the south where there was a grove of fig trees, mukuyu. Gikuyu descended the place and on arrival he found a woman (her name was Mumbi). I suppose he introduced himself and Gikuyu and Mumbi became husband and wife. He was also told he would make contact with this god by praying to him while facing Mt. Kenya or sacrificing a goat under the mukuyu or any other type of fig tree, the Mugumo.
Gikuyu and Mumbi brought forth ten beautiful daughters who became the mothers of the ten Gikuyu clans… Think of the sun moon and the ten planets, where when the girls became of age, their urge for husbands was palpable that they started asking their mother where she got her husband. She took the problem to the husband Gikuyu who consulted God (Ngai) who asked him to make a sacrifice of a spotless ram under the fig tree to insinuate that the girls were untouched. He called his daughters and asked them to go to the mukuyu and each of them had to cut a rod to measure their height. The girls brought the rods and their father placed them on top of the fire as ndara; (a place in the kitchen used to dry firewood using smoke) and then placed the sacrifice on them. In the morning NINE young men appeared and each of the daughters took a mate her own height.
It is believed that the children of Gikuyu and Mumbi had their own children from which their origin as farmers came to be. So, one fateful day one of their grandchild’s knee started swelling, he cut open the knee in which of course came out the most unexpected thing in their life, the three little boys emerged from the knee who became his sons. It is as marveling as it is to unbelievable to imagine that a human being’s knee could grow big enough to accommodate three boys who became his sons, which is strange enough in our present days. In time, one of them became a hunter, one enjoyed collecting fruits and plants, and the third one made fire for cooking. The hunter domesticated some animals and the collector grew crops such as bananas, cassava, and sweet potatoes. The third son applied fire to stones and metals and became a blacksmith. In this way, the Gikuyu culture was originated. Traditionally, folklores and riddles combined with myths provided young people with a strong sense of Gikuyu values, and grandmothers were excellent story tellers. Some of the common riddles known were…
· My child travels without rest - the River (always flowing)
· A man who never sleeps hungry? Fire (since it is fed throughout the night); for the flames to remain alive, you must keep on adding more firewood throughout the night
· My son lives between spears? The tongue (surrounded by the teeth)
Proverbs are numerous in modern day culture and they change constantly to reflect the times. For example, one proverb teaches that
· “A good mortar does not correspond to a good pestle”, to explain that to successfully match a husband and a wife could be difficult.
Another proverb widely heard is
· “When the hyena come, nobody will give shelter” which means that in times of panic, it is every man for himself.
Many proverbs teach common sense, such as
· “When one goes on a journey, he does not leave his bananas cooking in the fire” Information that is interesting and educative.
The Gikuyu seem to take their creation myth very literally as actual occurrences beyond question. To cut the monotony of your visit in Kenya, the tree origin of the Gikuyu, [ficus sycomorus], a fig tree that provides with a nice, beautiful evergreen shade sanctuary from the hot African sun, is best enjoyed with amazing Gikuyu folklores that will baffle your imaginations beyond what you can imagine as you watch the sunset goes down.
These are just snippets of the stories for every Kenyan community which has a bunch of equally mesmerizing tales of their own background. Board the next flight on the next chapter, and you do not want miss this. Thank you for reading this chapter of the Gikuyu community. Coming soon for the next Chapter of the Kenyan Community.
By KARIMI KIURA