As you plan on travelling to and around Kenya, one guaranteed fact is that you will be in constant relation with Kenyan people. Therefore, it only makes sense that you learn as much about them as possible. Today we focus on one of the 43 tribes of Kenya, the Agikuyu. Here are some very interesting facts about them.
They are the largest ethnic group in Kenya
As of the 2019 census, the Agikuyu make at least 17% of the total Kenyan population. This makes them a constant lead as the largest community or tribe in Kenya.
They are highly concentrated in Central Kenya
The Agikuyu can be found in large numbers around the Central highlands of Kenya. Some of the main regions inhabited by Kikuyus include Nyeri, Kiambu, Murang’a and Thika. However, currently they can be found in almost all counties in Kenya, with ease of adaptability and absorption. They have also extensively intermarried especially with the Maasai and other highland Bantus including the Meru, Embu and Kamba.
They are shrewd businesspeople
If there is anything universally common to almost all Kikuyu people, it is their mastery in commerce. The Agikuyu are very resourceful in matters money and wealth and are constantly looking for ways to get more. Sometimes, this means using unconventional methods. This has earned them a stereotypical perception as being shrewd by other communities. It is also because of their business savviness that Kikuyus have been able to explore almost all of Kenya and countries abroad, in search of greener pastures.
They had the largest influence from colonizers
The Agikuyu both benefited and suffered greatly under the colonization error. Because of their possession of arable lands, the European settlers grabbed a lot of land from the Agikuyu, often killing or jailing those that put up a fight. However, they also absorbed most as labourers and workers, therefore giving the Agikuyu the earliest and most exposure to education and the benefits therein.
They played a major role in the independence of Kenya
One of the major organizations acknowledged for the victory over colonization is the Mau Mau group. This consisted of rebellious Kikuyu men and women who took to the forests and hills to hide and fight against the colonizers. A major figure of this group is Dedan Kimathi, who is celebrated to this day for his bravery and strength.
They produce many prominent people
The Agikuyu are well represented in all sectors of the country including politics, music, sports, and media. Of the 4 presidents in Kenya, 3 of them were Kikuyu. Other notable persons include Wangari Maathai, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Samuel Wanjiru, Samidoh and Patrick Ngugi Njoroge, governor of the Central Bank of Kenya.
They are communal
The Agikuyu are known to have strong intra-community bonds, with members being open to help one of their own in need. They often refer to each other as ‘Mundu wa nyumba’, which translates to ‘a person of our house.’
They have strong cultural beliefs
The history of the Agikuyu is long and strong, with the community still performing some cultural rites to date. A common and popular example is the ‘ruracio’ which is a traditional wedding that takes place before or instead of a white wedding as per individual preferences. As long as a ruracio has taken place, then a man and woman can live together as husband and wife even in the absence of a church wedding. Other practised traditions include circumcision, payment of dowry and offering purification sacrifices where needed.
They revere nature
The Agikuyu hold strong respect to nature and the elements. In fact, they believed God to reside on Mt. Kenya. They also took the sycamore (Mukuyu) and fig (Mugumo) trees as special and holy places of worship for their God Ngai. This reverence could also be seen in their agricultural way of life, which led to the knowledge and understanding of different crops and weather elements to their favour.