Kikuyu Language: the Lord's prayer and other christian terms

The Prayer: Many Christians in Kenya get very animated in prayer
The Prayer: Many Christians in Kenya get very animated in prayer | Source

Most Kikuyu are Christians


The Kikuyu people of Central Kenya are mainly Christian. The first Catholic missionaries set up base in heart of their land at Tuthu. This was the Consolata order that set out to Christianise by setting up more missions in outlying districts. Later the Church of Scotland Mission (CMS) set up base at Thogoto in present day Kikuyu town where they built a hospital and school as well. Other missionaries followed and we can safely say that over 90% of the Kikuyu are Christian with a small Muslim representation. Besides the mainstream churches which include Seventh Day Adventists, Salvation Army and The Presbyterians, there are numerous Christian sects. Akorino, from the word Corinthian are probably the most famous home-grown sect with a following all over the country. The men ware a turban headdress of any colour and the women must have a white head scarf. On Sundays, they hold open air church services in designated spots, where they sing and jump to beat of a drum. One common prayer to all these denominations is the Lord’s Prayer. It is translated here from the Catholic version. Translation is not always literal from the English language. As an indication of the differences from the English version, I have given literal translation into English. That way, one can identify each Kikuyu word and its meaning.

A. Ihoya ria Baba witũ - The Lord’s Prayer


Baba witũ ũrĩ matuinĩ – Our father who is in heaven

Rĩtwa rĩaku rĩroiguo – May your name be heard (Hallowed be thy name)

Ũnene waku ũroka – May your greatness come (Thy kingdom come)

Ũtũhe ũmũthĩ irio citũ cia gũtũigana- Give us this day sufficient food (give us this day our daily bread)

Na ũtũohere mehia maitũ – Forgive us our sins/trespasses

O torĩa twohagĩra arĩa matũhĩtĩirie – As we forgive those who sin against us

Na ndũgatũtware mahĩtithiainĩ – Do not lead us into temptation

No ũtũhonikie ũruinĩ – but spare us from evil (deliver us from all evil)

Ameni – Amen


Many Churches add the following words after the lord’s prayer


Tondũ ũthamaki nĩ waku – Because the Kingdom is yours

Ona hinya – and the power

Ona kũgocwo – and the praise

Tene na tene – forever and ever

Ameni – Amen

Audio of the Lord's Prayer

B. Vocabulary


Baba witũ (ithe witũ)– Our father

Matu – clouds, ũri matũinĩ – who is in the clouds (heaven)

Rĩtwa – name, Wĩtagwo atia?- What is your name, Njĩra rĩtwa rĩaku – tell me your name

Igua – hear, listen

rĩroiguo – may it be heard

Mũndũ Mũnene – big person/important person/ dignitary

Ũnene - greatness/ bigness

Mũthamaki – King/leader, Bururi – country (there was no term for Kingdom)

Ũmũthĩ – today, rũciũ – tomorrow, Oke – day after tomorrow

Ira – yesterday, iyo – day before yesterday

Igana – one hundred, Kũigana – To be enough, sufficient

Mũgate – bread, irio – food,

Oha – tie, Njohera – tie for me/forgive me, twohere – forgive us

Kwĩhia (kũhĩtia) – to sin, to err, mehia (mahĩtia) - Mistakes, sins

Twara – take, ndwara – take me (this word in another tone means finger nails), tũtware – take us Honokia – save, same me, tũhonokie – save us, ũhonoki - salvation

Ũru – bad, evil, mũtino – Accident, ill omen

Ameni – Amen



Below is a video with a song that asks "with Christ, what more can I want?" and the story of the prodigal son.

C. Other common Christian terms


Na rĩtwa rĩa ithe - in the name of the father

Na rĩa mwana - and of the child (son)

na rĩa roho mũtheru - and of the holy spirit


Ngai (Mũrungu) – god

Mũhonokia – savior

Mũthamaki wa athamaki – King of kings

Roho mũtheru – the Holy Spirit

Mũraika – angel, Maraika – Angels

Iherero – Hell, Kuhera to repent

Bibiria – Bible

Kũgoca – to praise, Nyĩmbo cia kugoca, praise songs

Mũtharaba – The cross

Mũtheru – Saint

Igongona - Church service (The word also means a traditional sacrifice)

Kanitha – Church, Nyũmba ya Ngai – house of God

Rũthario - rosary


There were earlier versions of the Lord’s Prayer which are no longer in use. The above summarizes the most important terms used in Christian worship. I will appreciate comments that add to the Christian vocabulary or request for further translation. I will soon add ‘Hail Mary full of Grace’ and its translation in this hub.

I appreciate your having taken the trouble to browse through this hub. Take at look at other related hubs in the list below:

More by this Author


Comments 13 comments

Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Hi, Christa Michelle - glad you like my hubs. I look forward to reading some yours too.


Christa Michelle profile image

Christa Michelle 4 years ago from Fort Myers, Florida

Great hubs! I accidentally sent you the wrong thing in fan mail. I look forward to reading more of your hubs.


Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Welcome Paul. I think the video is a good way to teach language. I hope to record some more for my hub on 'conversation and language practice.'


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

Emmanuel,

You have done a great job in editing the audio of the Lord's Prayer in your Kikuyu Language. Now I can hear what your language sounds like and start practicing imitating the sounds. I'm sorry for not getting around to this audio until now. Voted up as useful and sharing with followers, on facebook, and pinning.


Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Thanks for the encouragement kenyanXstian. I hope to improve on what's done soon.


kenyanXstian profile image

kenyanXstian 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

Emmanuel Kariuki, Ni ndona wira mwega uritite. Very interesting. It was very interesting to discover this hub and this man from home. Good work sir!


Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

The Lord's Prayer Audio is now available on this hub. Now you get to hear the pronounciations of Kikuyu words.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

Emmanuel,

Thank you very much for all of your efforts. I look forward to hearing the Lord's Prayer in your Kikuyu language.


Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Hello Paul,

Ufortunately the video I posted on Hubpages was denied for 'being in a language other than English' in spite of having English subtitles. I am trying to post it on another site that I control and will let you know.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

Emmanuel,

Please excuse my delay in getting back to you about the Lord's Prayer. I did receive your email, but at that time I was very busy moving and did not easily have Internet access. I am still interested in hearing it if it is convenient for you. Thanks.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

This is another great hub. Do you have any voice recordings of the Lord's Prayer?


Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Thanks, njeriwa.

Language carries with it so many secrets of a community that it should be preserved by all means. I will soon add 'hail Mary full of Grace,' so keep reading.


njeriwa 4 years ago

I fully support and like what you are doing,i think our languages as african people should not be lost or become extinct at all.Language is in my opinion the start of knowing our identity and maintaining it.Now i can at least say the lords prayer in Kikuyu language,i used to just mumble when older people are saying it even though i do speak Kikuyu fluent enough for today's generation.Just to conclude and say i love your hubpages keep it up!

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