The great Kikuyu of Kenya

The Kikuyu are northeastern Bantu who live around Mt Kenya and known for their power to do agriculture and trade with other tribes especially the Masaai. The Kikuyu intermarriage with other ethnic groups, and sometimes they would raid each other for cattle and villages. The Kikuyu are believed to be the most prominent and largest ethnic group in Kenya.

The kikuyu women are responsible to do the farm work, take care of the children and also do housework, they’re helped by their children as they are molded to responsible people as they grow. Men do a little of the farm work.
When it comes to entertainment, the kikuyu enjoy music and dance, they use traditional instruments to give out beautiful tones, the kikuyu`s favorite is the gicandi.

Family and Marriage for the Kikuyu

Kikuyu tribe cultural dancersThe typical Kikuyu family is Polygamous, time back almost every man had four wives and above, they could all live in one home as a family with no conflicts, they give birth raise their children with the husband as the pillar of the house. The father has his own house and each of the wives with her children has a hut, when a child grows up, she/he stops to sleep in his mother’s hut and builds his/hers. Today polygamous families of the Kikuyu do exist in typical village settings or for those who are rich to sustain the family.

When the man feels grown and independent to get a wife, he has to first choose her and then together with his friends pay a visit to the woman`s father. The man goes with some gifts along, this tradition is known as kuhanda ithigi which means planting twigs. This is followed by getting to know the home where the man’s parents pay a visit to the woman’s home, this tradition is known as the kumenya mucii. On this day, they set the date for dowry payment, this ceremony is referred to as ruracio. The dowry paid are mostly goats and some other gifts.

On the wedding day the groom, and those that have accompanied him arrive at the bride’s home but they are not allowed to enter the house. The women from the groom’s side with them carrying gifts start to sing, the women inside the house also sing and the door is opened after some time. After that, a game is played where a groom has to recognize his bride among the group of woman dressed in the same clothes, the groom pays a fine if he makes a mistake, this is known as gucagura muka wake. When the bride is found, the groom cuts the goat meat prepared for the occasion and its shared by some of his and bride’s family members. The groom gives the bride goat’s ears for her to eat and she also gives the goat’s ears to him, this tradition is done to remind them that they should always listen to each other. Its known as kuria matu. The bride combs the groom’s hair, polishes his shoes, cut his nails and then wrap him a towel at the front to act as a baby feeder, the bride then offers him some porridge (gukundania ucuru). Traditionally he first refuses it, but the bride soothes him and after getting a gift he accepts it. Other members also take some porridge as they close the ceremony.
For other wives, the bride price is less than for a first wife. The wedding ceremony and feast are celebrated in the husband’s home.

Food for the Kikuyu
The Kikuyu feed on different foods like maize, potatoes, millet, beans, peas, and sorghum, they also feed on meat and blood from animals. Some of the special and tasty dishes that are prepared by the kikuyu are; gither which is maize served with beans, mukimo which are potatoes served with mashed green peas, kimitu which are potatoes served with mashed beans, ucuru which is fermented porridge made from flour of corn, millet or sorghum, roast meat, chicken, vegetables and fruits.

Dress code for the Kikuyu
The Kikuyu dressed in animal skins, women wrapped leather skins (Muthuru) around their wastes and paired the skirt with a mantle made from goatskin. The Kikuyu women would wear outfits according to their status in the community, a girl before initiation into adulthood would wear a leather apron embroidered with cowrie shells (gicoco), after initiation, a woman wore a fully beaded apron (miniuru) and when she conceived, she wore a broad beaded belt (Ndohi). Today different fabrics are used to make these clothings, they have introduced new fashions to fit the generation but the traditions still hold.

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