Ibuku Riria Itheru Ria Ngai Riitagwo Kirikaniro Kiria Gia tene na Kirikaniro Kiria Kieru: This is the Kikuyu Bible.
The term Kikuyu
is derived from the Swahili
form of the self-designation Gikuyu
means "large sycamore
) tree", and Agikuyu
translates to "children of the huge sycamore".
The alternative name Nyumba ya Mumbi
translates to House Of The Potter or Creator.
The Kikuyu belong to the Northeastern Bantu branch. Their language is most closely related to that of the Embu and Mbeere.
Geographically, they are concentrated in the vicinity of Mount Kenya.
The exact place that the Northeast Bantu speakers migrated from after the initial Bantu expansion
is uncertain. Some authorities suggest that the Kikuyu arrived in their
present Mount Kenya area of habitation from earlier settlements further
to the north and east, while others argue that the Kikuyu, along with their closely related Eastern Bantu neighbors the Embu, Meru, Mbeere, and Kamba moved into Kenya from points further north.
From archaeological evidence, their arrival at the northern side
of Mt. Kenya dates to around the 3rd century, as part of the larger
group known as Thagicu.
By the 6th century, there was a community of Agikuyu newly established
The Agikuyu established themselves in their current homeland of Mt.Kenya region by the 13th century
Spirituality and religion
Ngai – The Supreme Creator
The Gikuyu were – and still are – monotheists believing in an omnipotent God whom they refer to as Ngai.
All of the Gikuyu, Embu, and Kamba use this name. Ngai was also known
as Murungu by the Meru and Embu tribes, or Mulungu (a variant of a word
meaning God which is found as far south as the Zambezi of Zambia). The
title Mwathani or Mwathi (the greatest ruler) comes from the word gwatha meaning to rule or reign with authority, was and is still used. All sacrifices to Ngai were performed under a sycamore tree (Mukuyu) and if one was not available, a fig tree (Mugumo) would be used. The olive tree (Mutamaiyu) was a sacred tree for women.
Mount Kenya and religionNgai
is the Supreme Creator and giver of all things. He created the first
Gikuyu communities, and provided them with all the resources necessary
for life: land, rain, plants, and animals. Ngai cannot be seen but is
manifested in the sun, moon, stars, comets and meteors, thunder and
lightning, rain, rainbows, and in the great fig trees (Mugumo). These
trees served as places of worship and sacrifice and marked the spot at
Mukurue wa Gathanga where Gikuyu and Mumbi – the ancestors of the Gikuyu
in the oral legend – first settled. Ngai has human characteristics, and
although some say that he lives in the sky or in the clouds, Gikuyu
lore also says that Ngai comes to earth from time to time to inspect it,
bestow blessings, and mete out punishment. When he comes, Ngai rests on
(kirima kia njahi). Thunder is interpreted to be the movement of Ngai
and lightning is the weapon used by Ngai to clear the way when moving
from one sacred place to another. Some people believe that Ngai's abode
is on Mount Kenya. In one legend, Ngai made the mountain his resting
place while on an inspection tour of earth
. Ngai then took the first man, Gikuyu, to the top to point out the beauty of the land he was giving him.