Kikuyu People: Secrets of an ancient migration from Egypt to Mount Kenya

Pharaonic skirt compared with ceremonial attire of a Kikuyu woman. A Kikuyu woman is not allowed to show her thighs but it seems there were occasions when this particular attire was worn, perhaps in a dance.
Pharaonic skirt compared with ceremonial attire of a Kikuyu woman. A Kikuyu woman is not allowed to show her thighs but it seems there were occasions when this particular attire was worn, perhaps in a dance. | Source

Updated 29th May 2012

The Kikuyu do not have a tradition of a migration from Egypt. Their Myth of Origin is a sort of Adam and Eve affair. It states that God created a man and a woman and placed them near Mount Kenya. The couple had nine daughters who miraculously received nine men to marry them after their father’s prayers. The Kikuyu call themselves The House of Mumbi in honour of this Mother who was also a potter. However, as I will show here, linguistic and comparative studies between Kikuyu culture and that of 18th Dynasty Egypt tell a different story.

Who were the Kikuyu?

The Kikuyu are classified linguistically as Highland Bantus together with the Kamba, Kuria and Gusii, Embu, Tharaka, and Meru of Kenya. The latter three are classified as Kikuyu by this researcher due to their common origins. The other Highland Bantus in East Africa are the Meru (Tanzanian), Segeju, Sonjo, Ikoma, Chagga, Gweno, Shashi, Zanaki and Nguruimi of Tanzania. They are all of the Benue-Congo language division of the Niger Congo family. In particular, the Chagga have an as yet unexplored affinity with the Kikuyu. According to traditions, the Ethaga clan of the Kikuyu either came from or represents the Chagga.

Kikuyu proper has three main divisions. These are Gaki (Nyeri), Metumi (Muranga) and Kabete or Kiambu Kikuyu. We use the term Kikuyu because as the anglicised form of the original - Gĩkũyũ – it has gained widespread academic use. Gĩkũyũ was not only a language but also the name of a patriarch ancestor.

The first written mention of Kikuyu in modern times must be by Ludwig Krapf when he made two journeys to Ukambani in the 1840’s. Before that, the Kikuyu had lived in isolation for more than one thousand years, with little interaction with the outside world. It is to be expected that some Kikuyu travellers did join their Akamba friends to and from the coast on trading expeditions. This explains why the Kikuyu, despite the isolation, did not lag behind in incorporating new crops into their agriculture. Examples of these crops are cassava, maize and tobacco, which were unknown outside the Americas before the Spanish conquests, and subsequent Portuguese presence at the East African Coast. For a detailed description of the Kikuyu, the reader is invited to read The Kikuyu Language: vocabulary and conversation practice.

Where did the Kikuyu come from?

The Kikuyu have several myths of origin. For details on these myths, read Kikuyu People - Myths of Origin. Myths cannot be relied on entirely for historical accuracy. However, they do carry some fragments of truth, which are important to the keen observer. The Myth of Gĩkũyũ and Mũmbi, the father and mother of all the Kikuyu is the most reliable of all the legends told by the kikuyu about their origins.

From comparative studies, I have deduced that the nucleus of the people called Kikuyu today came from the land of Ancient Egypt, during the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten. They used the Ethiopia route to get to Mount Kenya. According to evidence from power handing over ceremony described below, it took less than thirty (30) years for the first group to get to Mount Kenya region. It took others more than one hundred years to join their kin. This explains the variety of dialects, including Meru, now a distinct language. The reader will be taken through the existing evidence of this migration. During this migration, the Nyeri and Murang'a Kikuyu were separated for three generations which resulted in the last three ruling generations to have two different names each as will be seen below. Once they had settled in the safety of the forests at the foot of the sacred mountain, the Kikuyu went to great pains to re-craft their origins and to ensure that intruders were kept at bay in a siege mentality that lasted over one thousand years.

The following questions will further help to understand the secrets given below:

  1. The Kikuyu say Tene to mean 'Long Ago.' Is this Tene the suffix in Akhenaten?
  2. The Meru who had a confederacy with the Kikuyu say KARE to mean Long Ago. Is this the suffix in Smenkhare, the co-regent of Akhenaten?
  3. The Kikhuyu call a Woman a Mutumia and an Olive tree a Mutamaiyo. Do this words have the same root as Mutemwiya, Akhenaten’s Grandmother? We also know with certainty that the Olive tree was sacred in ancient Egypt.

That said, let us look at two ceremonies, one in Egypt and the other in Kikuyu.

The Hebsed Festival or Jubilee

Egyptologists suggest that the Egyptian Hebsed started soon after 3100 BC when King Menes unified Egypt. It is likely that it was a much older tradition, taken into Egypt from the south where King Menes had come from. His commemorative palette called the palette of Narmer has two mythical long necked animals. Routledge described a long necked animal, a Ndamathia, living in the Mathioya River which has a sacred feather in its tail. He associated this animal to a ceremony of the Kikuyu similar to the Hebsed called Ituĩka in Kikuyu.

The triangular apron worn by Akhenaten's servants
The triangular apron worn by Akhenaten's servants | Source
A Kikuyu youth wearing the 'peculiar triangular apron' used in the gichukya dance
A Kikuyu youth wearing the 'peculiar triangular apron' used in the gichukya dance | Source

The Kikuyu Calendar

The Kikuyu used a lunar calendar by following the cycles of the moon. They therefore had twelve months, each with its own name, based on the activity or expected weather. These twelve months are listed in the hub: The Kikuyu Language: vocabulary and conversation practice. We can see therefore, that through the lunar month, they arrived at a year that was similar to the Egyptian year of 360 days.

A group of youths (both male and female) initiated into adulthood in a specific year was given a name that reminded them of a major event in that year, such as famine or the first time the aeroplane was cited. When the colonialist came with the Pax Britannica, it was possible to correlate known events and the names of the initiation groups to arrive at specific years. Cagnolo of the Consolata fathers was able to get Initiation names to as far back as 1840. It follows then that all the initiation names, marking major events in the history of the Kikuyu in the past, beyond 1840 have been forgotten. We shall never know for instance, what the initiation at departure of Egypt or at arrival in Kikuyu land was. However, another system, that of naming ‘ruling generations’ after every thirty years, gives the precise time that the Kikuyu identified themselves as a unique group in Egypt, the time they left Egypt and the possible time that they arrived in the Mount Kenya area. This is thanks to a list of nine names that are repeated in a cycle starting in the days of Pharaoh Thothmes III. Since the ancient Egyptians used the cycles of the ‘dog star’ or ‘Sirius’ to reckon the 30 year cycle, it should follow that the Kikuyu seers (Arathi) were familiar with ‘star gazing’ and used the same star to determine the end of a thirty year cycle.

The Word Arathi – Star gazer, has three morphs: A (a prefix to turn a word into plural); Ra (probably the sun God Ra): Thi (archaic form for the word ‘go.’ This form is still in use by the Akamba. What the Arathi do is kuratha – to foresee, the correct translation of Arathi in ancient times was – those who go with Ra, and since Ra was the sun, these journeys took place in the sky.

Kikuyu language is agglutinative. It has the tendency of forming new words by fusing two or more different words together to give a new meaning. By comparative studies, we are able to see and extract fused archaic forms.

The Ituĩka: a Kikuyu ceremony similar to the Hebsed of Egypt

The Kikuyu were ruled by a generation of elders. When the ‘generation in power’ reached the age of retirement, the ‘generation in waiting’ paid fees in goats, and an ‘Ituĩka’ ceremony was organised. This happened every 30 years. A cycle of nine names was used to identify each ruling generation and since it was a fixed cycle, the generation in waiting knew in advance what their name was. Below is a list of all the nine Ituĩka names:

1. Mathaathi

2. Chyera (Ciira)

3. Ndemi

4. Iregi

5. Maina

6. Mwangi

7. Choka (muirungu)

8. Chororo (murigaru)

9. Chuma (manduti)

10. ??? ( I will advance a theory why there must have been a tenth name)

Note that after Mwangi, the other generations have a different name in brackets. This bracketed names were from the Nyeri Kikuyu, an indication that a separation occurred but the ceremonies still took place according a traditional reckoning after every 30 years. Since each ceremony commemorated an event, the separated groups had, as is expected, differing experiences and events to name after the ceremonies.


There were two names however that were generic, meaning that whichever of the nine names a generation carried from the above list, they also had of the two – a sort of surname. A Generation was either a Mwangi or a Maina, regardless of the real generation name. Since Maina and Mwangi are alos on the list, it means that they commemorate very important occasions in the history of the tribe. In other words, the Mwangi begat the Maina, and the Maina begat the Mwangi. This will be clear when the reader has gone through the entire text.

In all probability, the Ituĩka names were given to the Kikuyu when in Egypt and after departure from Egypt, every 30 years according to an Egyptian tradition called the Hebsed. This word Hebsed translates to “the becoming” in English, the same meaning that “Ituĩka” gives in Kikuyu. For details on the Hebsed and the Ituĩka see the Hub: Akhenaten and the Kikuyu People of Kenya. All the Generations that appear before Mwangi in the list below are believed by this author to have corresponding Hebsed festivals celebrated in Egypt. The names of generations in the power-handing-over ceremony give us an idea of how many years the Kikuyu took to get to Mount Kenya regions as follows:


Akhenaten's servant and a Tigania warrior, both wearing the triangular apron
Akhenaten's servant and a Tigania warrior, both wearing the triangular apron | Source

(1)Mathaathi – this was during the reign of Thothmes III. ‘Ma’ is a prefix and the root is Thaathi for Thoth. This is the earliest period in the collective memory of the Kikuyu. Thothmes III (sometimes spelled as Tahutmes, or Thutmosis) was a pharaoh in the 18th Dynasty. For the first 22 years of his reign, Thothmes was co-regent with his stepmother, Hatshepsut, the first female pharaoh ever. He is recorded to have ruled between 1504-1450 BC. Hatshepsut who was also called Makare, celebrated a Hebsed (the equivalent of an Ituĩka) as recorded on an obelisk. It is likely that that 30 year jubilee celebration merely fell in her reign and was not of her own making as some Egyptologists have theorised. It is around this time that a group of East African men and women were acquired by Hatshepsut. The women were called the Angui (an archaic Bantu word for leopard). Makare, Hatshepsut’s other name meant ‘leopard’ and it would appear that these women were ‘her property.’ The Men probably took the interim name Mathaathi, before taking on the name Gĩkũyũ when Thothmes was in full power. ‘Sycamore’ was a Pharaonic title besides the fact that sycamores were sacred trees. A sycamore tree is called Mũkũyũ in Kikuyu. The present Angũi Clan of the Kikuyu is also called Aithiegeni (which is archaic Kikuyu for ‘those in a foreign land’). It is noteworthy that the Kikuyu call a leopard Ngare and not Ngoi as do many other Bantu groups. They seem to have adopted the Egyptian word for it. The Mathaathi generation gave birth to Chyera (Ciira).


About the God Thoth – “...In another aspect [besides as a scribe] Thoth was the heart of Ra - the heart was the seat of Intelligence, and writing was the physical manifestation of Intelligence" (Edward L. B. Terrace and Henry G Fischer, 1970).

(2) Chyera (Ciira). The root of this word is the verb, Ciara – give birth. Scholars agree that this generation signifies excessive growth of the tribe. I suggest that this growth took place after the fortunes of a small captive group changed for the better. It understandable that Hatshepsut, as the first female Pharaoh in Egypt, had given her captives and servants such freedom as was not available to their lot before. This is especially so for the women, and we can understand how at one time, according to legend, Kikuyu women ruled their men. It interesting that the Kikuyu women adopted some items of clothing that were the preserve of men in Egypt. Look closely at the images presented in this hub.

A Hebsed was likely to have been celebrated during the reign of Thothmes III who ruled for 54 years, (26 as a co-regent). A woman is called ‘mutumia’ in Kikuyu and it seems women were associated with Olive trees. If the sycamore was the ‘Sun’, then the Olive was the ‘Moon.’ This generation gave birth to Ndemi.

(3) Ndemi – This generation is associated with writing (Ndemwa – letters and numbers) from the verb tema – to cut. Some writers have associated them with clearing fields for cultivation but that cannot be true when other evidence that is shown below is taken into consideration. Letters in Egypt were cut or incised in stone. When Thothmes III eventually took over from Hatshepsut, he put everybody to a lot of work on his monuments. It is reported that almost all the great temples existing in Upper Egypt at the time were enlarged while he ordered the building of new ones. This required artisans to work the stones and to assist the scribes in writing the hieroglyphics. Even if one did not actually write on stone, the event would be so important that everyone would want to be associated with the ‘cutting and incising’. Thothmes III extended the borders of Egypt to include the lands that we know as Ethiopia, Sudan, Arabia, Armenia and Kurdistan. Thothmes III was succeeded by his son Amenhotep II. It is likely that a Hebsed was celebrated after Amenhotep II had taken over from his father. His mother was the famous Mutemwiya – the great Olive. An Olive tree is called mutamaiyu in Kikuyu. It was the sacred tree for Kikuyu women. The Ndemi generation gave birth to Iregi- the rebels.

(4) Iregi – This means ‘rebels’ in Kikuyu. This generation is associated with the rebellion against Amun by Amenhotep iv (Maina) who changed his name to Akhenaten (Tene) when he took over in.1350. The Hebsed was likely to have been celebrated when Akhenaten was co- regent with his father, Amenhotep III. The rebellion was against the worship of the state religion which had a stranglehold on the population. Note that a State House is called ‘Thingira wa Iregi’ – house of the rebels in the Kikuyu language. This title for the ruler’s house was initiated by Akhenaten, who was the Gikũyũ of Kikuyu migration from Egypt. The priests of Amun were rich and influential, a situation he endeavoured to change by decreeing that none should be worshipped but the sun God Aten whose rays were always shown holding the Ankh – symbol of life. It implies that the generation sided with his actions. Akhenaten went to great lengths to erase inscription with Amun on monuments, acts that no doubt infuriated the nobles and priests. The Iregi gave birth to the Maina who were so named in memory of Akhenaten whose religious belief they had now adopted. Maina is from Amun in Amenhotep – Akhenaten’s name before the change.


The Ankh – This word is the root of the Kikuyu word ũgima and the Luo word mangima, both meaning health. As will be apparent here, it is also the root of the name Mwangi and the Egyptian name Tutankhmen.


The undergarment aprons sticking from the skirts of a noble from Punt and a soldier from Egypt are similar to the apron on the right that was worn by Kikuyu women as an under-garment (mwengu.)
The undergarment aprons sticking from the skirts of a noble from Punt and a soldier from Egypt are similar to the apron on the right that was worn by Kikuyu women as an under-garment (mwengu.) | Source

(5) Maina – This name is the first of the Generic names. It must be marker of a momentous stage in the history of the Kikuyu. I have deduced that this generation is derived from Akhenaten’s original name Amenhotep IV and though it is a grim reminder of the banished God and his priests it is associated more with the peace that reigned in the land – the Amarna period. Despite the fact that Petrie, an early Egyptologist stated that there is no record of Akhenaten’s celebration of a Hebsed, he believed that it must have taken place. The fact that the Kikuyu have this Maina that precedes Mwangi is testimony that it did take place. The name Maina shares the same roots with the Kiswahili word Amani meaning peace. Egyptologists are agreed that the Amarna period was a peaceful era in the 18th Dynasty. This Maina generation gave birth to Mwangi.

(6) Mwangi – This generation was associated with Tutankhamen’s rise to the throne after Akhenaten’s flight from Egypt. Mwa in Mwangi and Tut in Tutankhamen are prefixes. The root in Mwangi is Angi which corresponds with Ankh” inTutankhamen. Maina was the father of Mwangi, just as Akhenaten was the father of Tutankhamen. Akhenaten took flight at about 1334 BC. The Ituĩka ceremony in this generation may not have been celebrated in Egypt, since the Pharaoh and his followers were in full flight. However, the Kikuyu and Egyptians may have held the ceremonies concurrently since the timing was reckoned by stargazing. This generation in flight gave birth to Choka, which means ‘return’ in Kikuyu.

The use of the word Choka - ‘return,’ implies that the Kikuyu had arrived at ancestral lands, from where they had been uprooted in the first place. It is at this point that the returnees called themselves Gĩkũyũ – as followers of the fleeing sycamore whom they also adopted as their symbolic father. This was in an effort to forget their tribulations in Egypt. In any case, a sycamore tree was also sacred in Egypt and the word was another title for a Pharaoh. The Meru who were all Imenti (people of the mountain) commemorated this departure by forming a new group – Tigania, which means ‘abandoners.


(7) Choka (also called Mũirungu) - Thirty years after the installation of Mwangi, a section of the next generation was born in Mount Kenya area by the first batch of returnees. The Generic name for them would be Maina. These were the Choka – those who returned. Choka is also called Mũirungu or Irũngũ. Mũirungu is archaic Kikuyu to mean ‘the one who is underground.’ Rungu means under. ‘Mu’ is a prefix to denote a human. Mũirungu therefore means “the one who is under.” Mũirungu was later pronounced as Mũrungu and came to mean God, which was the custom of ancient Egypt to deify a departed leader.. This means that Gĩkũyũ the leader, died within the reign of this generation and was buried in the Mount Kenya area. Did Akhenaten die soon after arrival and was interred?

It is debatable whether the Chuka ethnic group of Mount Kenya region derive their name from the verb Choka - this occasion of returning. Perhaps the Mbeere ethnic group also of the Mount Kenya region was always present as the remnant group that received the returnees. Mbeere means ‘first’ and is related to the Hebrew word ‘Bereshith’ – the name of the first book in the Bible.

From this point we know that more returnees continued to come in deferent waves. It is likely that those left behind by the Choka called themselves something different, hence the many intelligible dialects of Mount Kenya region. The next two generations had two different names each. This may indicate that some groups did a government changeover – and Ituĩka, in isolation and commemorated events with names that were unknown to the people already settled in Mount Kenya area. I have concluded that the Gichukya dance, which is described on the right was danced until recently to commemorate the return to ancient ancestral lands over 1000 years ago, perhaps even 3000.

(8) Chororo (Murigaru) – I have been unable to decipher the meaning of these two words. The generic name for Chororo would be Mwangi. One group which was likely lost and came across a people who had iron working knowledge adopted the name Murigaru instead of the one by those who had already arrived. Murigaru maybe in association with heat (ũrugarĩ) as would be expected when working near hot furnaces during iron working. These generation known by its two names, gave birth to Chuma also known as Manduti.

(9) Chuma (Manduti) – It would appear that this age group commemorated the acquisition of ‘iron working’ skills, almost one hundred years after the flight from Egypt. Chuma (pronounced as ‘shuma’ in Kikuyu) means Iron in both Kikuyu and Swahili, which was introduced by the group that had been previously lost. Having superior iron weaponry, it is likely that a lot of evil was committed by those arriving with the technology. The other name for this generation, Manduti has been translated as ‘evil doers.’ In ancient Egypt, iron working was associated with Set, a god of evil. When they were integrated sufficiently, the evil was probably visited on other ‘enemy’ communities that did not have iron working knowledge. The name Manduti also means the ugly ones. The generic name of Chuma would be Maina.

After this generation, the Kikuyu were well settled in the mountainous area where they developed a siege mentality and proceeded to isolate themselves. Akhenaten was in danger of being pursued by his enemies in Egypt. His people therefore went to great lengths to hide him. The women in the harem (seraglio) were adopted as Gikũyũ 's daughters and the myth of Gikũyũ and Mũmbi was crafted.

In the Myth of Gikũyũ and Mumbi, God placed Gikũyũ in the area of Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga, and gave him a wife. The wife bore only girls, nine in all. When they were ready to get married, there were no men, and Gikũyũ had to sacrifice to God Ngai, resulting in the miraculous appearance of nine men to marry the girls. The girls became the heads of their homes and were the initiators of the nine clans. Gikũyũ's entire household, according to some interpretations constituted the tenth clan.

This period is remembered as TENE or the days of TENE NA AGO (very long ago).

I highly suspect that the AGO of Kikuyu (seers and diviners) and the ago in Long Ago in English are related etymologically.


The Gichukya dance

The word Gichukya is derived from the verb – choka (return). Gi is a prefix to denote a big thing. The meaning of Gichukya then is the Big return.

The dancers dress in a triangular apron, the kind that is worn by Akhenaten’s servants in tomb pictures. The males paint their legs halfway with white chalk instead of ochre. They paint lines of white on their bodies. These lines represent water – the waters of the Nile, Lake Tana and river Tana in Kenya. One man paints his face green, another with white, yellow or even blue. I have concluded that this is a representation of all the different races that escaped from Egypt but lived together as ‘Kikuyu.’ An early writer on the Kikuyu noted that the Kikuyu are a mixture of many races. The men form a circle and the girls form another circle inside the big one, facing the men. This was always done around a sacred tree which no doubt represented the patriarch Gĩkũyũ. During the dance, groups of men entered the inner circle and showed off their dancing skills before returning to their position and giving room to others. A garment that was described by Routledge as peculiar was worn around the waist by the men. This was the triangular apron worn by Akhenaten’s servants.

Conclusion

We have seen that the Kikuyu myth of origin does not include Egypt as a possible location. After focussed scrutiny, the nine names given in a 30-year cycle in Ituĩka ceremonies of handing over power indicate that the Kikuyu had something to hide. Readers should ask themselves why the coincidences seem to revolve around the life of Akhenaten and his relatives when a comparison is made with the history of 18th Dynasty Egypt. I would conclude that the coincidences are not to be taken as chance occurrences.

In regard to the nine Ituĩka ceremony names, I maintain that a tenth generation was hidden in the same way that the Kikuyu only talked of nine clans. Most writers agree that the clans were ten. The reason for hiding the tenth clan is that counting people to the exact number would cause them to perish. Since the tenth clan name is said to be the entire house of Mumbi, it is a symbolic clan – that of completing the bundle, i.e. 10. Using the same argument, the tenth generation name would be symbolic to complete the bundle and it should not be surprising if it sounds a bit like ten (10). The word ten in English is thousands of years old as we shall see.

Nine Generations at 30-year intervals would give a total of 270 years at the end of the cycle. They would also make the use of the generic names Maina and Mwangi lose rhythm at some point since 2 is an even number while 9 is an odd number.

Ten Generations at 30-year intervals would give a total of 300 years, a figure that has the magical number 3, and a round figure.

With a tenth clan, we would not have a situation where Maina’s generic name is Mwangi or vice versa, which would be unacceptable, since “the Maina beget the Mwangi and the Mwangi beget the Maina in perpetuity. After the tenth Generation, the Kikuyu in their wisdom decided that the cycle would be repeated without further changes since they too had gone a full circle – from Mount Kenya to Egypt and back. Only the annual initiation names were subject to change as warranted by the major occurrences each year.

I suggest that the tenth Ituĩka was called Tene na Ago. This is a common phrase that also means long ago in Kikuyu. Note that Ten inEnglish and Tene na ago for long ago in Kikuyu and long Ago (English) are mere semantics for number ten and long ago.

During the Ituĩka power handing over ceremony, the secrets of the tribe were handed over to the new rulers. In 1939, the British Government proscribed the ceremony so the generation that was to hand over went to their graves with all the secrets of the Kikuyu. According to LSB Leakey, the ceremony was already very late. The payment to the retirees had been greatly delayed, possibly due to the transition from self-government to colonialism. Unknown to the British, the ceremony had continued among the Kikuyu uninterrupted for roughly 3,300 years. But if it is assumed that the ceremony had started with King Menes in 3100 BC, then 5,000 years would be closer to the truth. The people of England may one day discover that the story of the Hebseds, the Ituĩka and their story too, since little is known of pre-Roman times.

References


1. Aldred, C., 1968 Akhnenaten Thames & Hudson London

2. Cagnolo, C., 1933, The Akikuyu, Their customs, Traditions and Folklore, Mission Printing school, Nyeri.

3. Collier, J., 1970, In search of Akhenaten ,Ward Lock Limited - London

4. Dundas, Charles, 1968, Kilimanjaro and its People, Frank Cass & co. Ltd, London.

5. Ellison T, R., (2006), Tree Goddesses http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/treegoddess.htm, accessed April 2006.

6. Giles, F. J., 1970, Ikhnaton: Legend and History, Hutchinson, London.

7. Ions, V., 1973. Egyptian Mythology. Paul Hamlyn, New York.

8. Kenyatta, J., 1938, Facing Mount Kenya, Kenway Publications, Nairobi.

9. Krapf, J. Lewis., 1968. Missionary Researches and Travels No. 2. Frank Cass, London.

10. Leakey, L.S.B., 1977, The Southern Kikuyu before 1903, Vol I, II & III, Academic Press, London.

11. Middleton, J. & Kershaw G., 1965, The Central Tribes of the North-Eastern Bantu, (including the Embu, Meru, Mbere, Chuka. Mwimbi, Tharaka, and the Kamba of Kenya), International Africa Institute, London.

12. Middleton, J. & Kershaw G., 1965, The Central Tribes of the North-Eastern Bantu, (including the Embu, Meru, Mbere, Chuka. Mwimbi, Tharaka, and the Kamba of Kenya), International Africa Institute, London.

13. Millard, Anne, 1981, Ancient Egypt, Usborne Publishing, London.

14. National Geographic, April 2001, p. 34-57, Pharaohs of the Sun, by Rick Gore, published by the National Geographic Society, Washington DC.

15. Ogot, B.A., editor, 1974, Zamani, a Survey of East African History, East African Publishing House, Nairobi.

16. Petrie, M, 1972, Amarna city of Akhenaten and Nefertiti , Department of Egyptology, University College, London.

17. Routledge, W. S., and Routledge K., 1910, With a Prehistoric People, the Akikuyu of British East Africa, Edward Arnold, London.

18. Sir Petrie, Flinders, (1924), History of Egypt , From earliest Kings to the xviDynasty Vol. II, (6 vol., 1894- 1925)

19. Tate, H. R., 1904, Further Notes on the Kikuyu Tribe of East Africa, Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, London

20. Terrace, Edward L. B., and Fischer Henry. G., 1970, Treasures of the Cairo Museum, Thames and Hudson, London.

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Comments 60 comments

Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

Emmanuel Kariuki 11 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Hi Wanyeki Wa Mwangi

I have never gone for the pilgrimages. However, I believe strongly that there are rock cut tombs on Mt kenya which have not yet been discovered.

It appears that the Gikuyu had some writing that disappeared with time, the evidence being clans symbols. Though I have shown elsewhere that the Meru were also in Egypt, I have not done a serious study on the Meru.


Wanyeki Wa Mwangi profile image

Wanyeki Wa Mwangi 14 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya

Very good research Kariuki. You must have put several months digging into the history of Gikuyu. Have you ever gone for the pilgrimages that happen in December in Mt Kenya? What are there significance and who located the spot.

As for your answers to Drabbo, you sound more of a hands on researcher since Drabbos is is heavily borrowed from earlier publications that did not isolate Gikuyu from other Bantus.

I would also love to know whether the earlier Gikuyu had any skills of writing since they had come from Egypt. Also the Ameru myth refers to them having come from iria ntune meaning red sea. The myth further says that a boy was told to step on a stone that had a foot print and he later became the father of the clan. Any work on that. I will keep on checking.


Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

Emmanuel Kariuki 14 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Jim Njagi

Interesting question:

Mbaki is from the portuguese word Tabaco who brought it to the East African coast. Note that in Kiswahili the word has hardly changed - tumbako.

Now Jingles is the interesting one. Kikuyus did not borrow Njingiri from English. It seems to me that the two languages have many other words in common which would suggest that an ancient proto-language in Ancient Egypt lent to both English and Kikuyu. Note the following words:

Kirimu - creme (of milk)

Maitu - mother (English) , mutter (German)

Riera - Air (English), L'air (French)

Tata - aunt (English), Tante (French)

Maybe am trying too hard to find similarities, you tell me.


Jim Njagi 15 months ago

Hi, Excellent hub I am currently doing a study on English words borrowed into Gikuyu. I came across two words that appear to be similar yet neither language has borrowed from the other. Are they etymologically related? : Gik. mbaki and Eng. baccy/ tobacco; also Gik. njingiri and Eng. jingle


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Emmanuel Kariuki 21 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Hi Njoroge,

what you suggest is possible. What you need is material to support your arguments. It is also possible to link with mine- that native Egyptians accompanied the returnees who would later become present day Kikuyus.


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Wambura Njoroge 21 months ago from Kampala, Uganda

Hello Kariuki, this is a very interesting article. However, is there a possibility that the Egyptians actually made the journey southward and influenced the communities along the way?


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Emmanuel Kariuki 2 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Hi Wairiuko,

I prefer to stay with delving into the deconstruction or reconstruction of ancient Kikuyu history. I only get into the etymological matters when words have a bearing on the historical event I am researching on. I would not want to argue with Ngugi, him being older and more knowledgeable than I am in matters about the Kikuyu. The man has written an entire novel in Kikuyu!

However, I should be allowed to think independently and to have my own opinions, and that is why I use phrases like - " in my opinion; I believe" - to indicate that I am not denying the existence of other schools of thought.

When I rake my brains, I believe most Indian words entered the Kikuyu language after 1840 and especially during and after the construction of the railway line in the 1900s. Portuguese words like Manihoc (Mhogo, Mwanga) must have entered East Africa earlier when the cassava was introduced in both eastern and Western coasts of Africa.

As for Jangiri, "I believe" that if it came from Asia, it came far much earlier than any of the dates above. It may even be Coincicentaly Kikuyu. The verb 'Canga' ( roam about) which is often doubled into 'cangacanga' gives us the noun Jangiri. The saying "Kaihu gacangacangi gatigaga kwao gugithinjwo" (the jackal that wonders about leaves a meat-feast at home) is likely to be much older the coming of the Portuguese in the 1500's or the Indians in the 1900s. It may be as ancient as the Kikuyu forefathers. Please accept that as my opinion which may not be informed by serious study.


Wairiuko Nyambura 2 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

Dear Kariuki,

Thank you for your timely reply. Oh, and sorry for troubling you with that research. I am, nevertheless, looking forward to see it. While we are at it (the seemingly similarities between Kikuyu and Arabic words and their respective meanings) what's your opinion on the influence of Asian languages on "ancient" Kenyan languages. For instance, I found in another article of yours whereby you had referred to "jangiri" as Kikuyu word. Really? Ngugi wa Thiong'o has a different opinion. According to wa Thiong'o, the word has its origin from India’s Vedic languages; other words include nduka (from India's dukawalla) and ngirimiti (from the English word agreement).

The cynosure, however, is the word "jangiri": wa Thiong'o opines that it means a person who's "useless, rootless, like a stray dog; Jangiri came to Gikuyu from jangaal, the Sanskrit-Hindi word for wild: it would have been what the Indian employer was likely to call his (African) domestic help" but the consonant 'l' was dropped for 'r'" due to Kikuyu's problems with liquid consonants 'l' and 'r' (Daily Nation, May 18, 2012).

The upshot is: how much influence did Asian languages exert on Kikuyu? At what point did Asian words 'infiltrate' (sorry for the word) Kikuyu? How much Kikuyu is Kikuyu? How many foreign words, 'masquerading' as real Kikuyu words, joyride? Do you see the possibility of a hot-blooded self-styled Kikuyu king or a Boko Haram-style rebel group one day ‘bowdlerizing’ Kikuyu language and throwing these words out the door like yesterday’s oatmeal? While these questions might be a tough nut to crack, I would like to delve into your intelligent mind.

Yours curiously,

Wairiuko Nyambura (Freelance writer)


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Emmanuel Kariuki 2 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Wairiuko Nyambura ,

Mai is also Arabic for water. I have come to believe that the word has semitic roots. the Kamba word "kiwuo" is what in my opinion comes close the original word that was shared with the Kikuyu (when they were one tribe) to mean water. The 'M' in Mai is what I think represents water semantically speaking - Mai, aMatsi, Moses etc. I will research and write a hub on water and thanks for the inspiration.


Wairiuko Nyambura 2 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

I stumbled on this article. Interesting, I must say. Kariuki, do you mind searching the origin of the word "maai" (means water in Kikuyu)? I think there is a tribe in Asia where the word also means water?


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

QYPRO,

Thanks for your comment. I have written about the Gumba in another hub - http://emmanuelkariuki.hubpages.com/hub/Meru-myths...

This article is just a brief of my findings and I was focused on the Kikuyu. About the Luhya and their connection to the Kikuyu, I have another article that includes the kisii.


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QYPRO 4 years ago from Kenya

Sorry search for Ghumbiega of Tanzania and not Gumba. They say they originated from Mt. Kenya and were chased by joint Maasai and Gikuyu force to Tanzania.


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QYPRO 4 years ago from Kenya

Hi,

Good work,but you have forgotten to put into consideration the following source of Kikuyu language variation:

1. That they are Bantus and therefore have some origin in Congo Basin

2. That they have relation to the tribes who were already settled in Mt. Kenya i.e, the Ndia,Sirikwa (Thirikwa) and Gumba. Gumba are in Tanzania and call themselves Gumbiek. I have visited them,but try to google search for Gumbiek and you will find them.

3. You have not entirely related your age sets like Maina,Chuma,Irungu and others to age set naming system among other Bantus like Luhya ,Kisii and all other Nilotes in Kenya.

Bill


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Thanks for encouragement Sndungu. I will update corrections and new information as I discover more. This is only a drop in the ocean. Stay with Hubpages and give your opinion from time to time.


Sndungu 4 years ago

Keep up the good work Emmanuel (God with us); we are behind you 100%!


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Sndungu

At least I am letting the world know what I have found out. I hope it will help to correct some of the misinformation that has been peddled for centuries.


Sndungu 4 years ago

What happens next after this hub establishes that the East African cultures were indeed the cradle of civilization in Egypt? What will be the significance of this?


Sndungu 4 years ago

If this hub could prove that black people were involves in the cradle of civilization, and in the building of the great pyraminds of Egypt, then world should know, and never look at them as the least civilized people.


Sndungu 4 years ago

It is well known that many of the Pharaohs of Egypt and their subjects were black people. The question at the back of the mind is: "What happened to them?" Now Emmanuel you are trying to answer that question. Thank you very much, and keep up the good work!


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

That is precisely my thinking.


Sndungu 4 years ago

I have the Agikuyu people saying, " Kuma Ndemi na Mathaathi" to indicate a very long time ago. This is probably why according to this hub: "Letters in Egypt were cut or incised in stone. When Thothmes III eventually took over from Hatshepsut, he put everybody to a lot of work on his monuments." Do you agree?


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Very true Sndungu. The order to Abraham was at a very early stage in history though and the Gikuyu should probably also claim him culturally as do the Jews, Muslims and Christians.


Sndungu 4 years ago

What do you think? Did you note the parallel between Gikuyu as the father of the Kikuyu people, and Abraham as the father of the children of Israel in the Bible. In both cases they left their own people to found a nation of people who could worship one God, the True God. The Lord said to Abraham, "Leave your country, your relatives, and your father's house, and go to the land I will show you. I will cause you to become the father of a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and I will make you you a blessing to others (Genesis 12: 1-2). This has been equally true to the Agikuyu of Kenya.


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

You are right Kibera. When I go over it I find new information embedded and I am tempted to re-write. I will be updating soon and thanks for staying with me on hubpages.


mbugua kibera 4 years ago

the more i read this.... the more i get convinced that there is need to research more.... thanks kariuki we are getting educated


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

davidlaw2, thanks for compliment. Let me know what you would like me to clarify further in this hub.


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davidlaw2 4 years ago

All I have to say is: Good work. I look forward to more.


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robie2 4 years ago from Central New Jersey

absolutely fascinating. I'm off to google Lamu cat right now. Thank you.


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

victor ochieng,ku, thanks for the encouragement. Keep browsing through Hubpages for a great experience.


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Hello robie2.

Egyptologists have not agreed on the location of Punt. Most still say that the location has not been identified. I have a 2001National Geographic that says so.

A few scholars do believe in the present state of Punt in Somalia. I choose to go with the few. For one, why would a people who are ordinary villagers so to speak, insist that their state was punt and that it was taken over by modern Somalia if it were not true. What would they gain by lying? When Somalia degenerated into chaos, they declared independence. Secondly, this location is on the Red Sea as generally agreed about ancient Punt. Thirdly, I have decided that the ancient state of Aamu was headquartered in present day Lamu Island on the Kenyan coast. The People of Lamu call themselves Amu. This island is the only place in the world where a species of cat resembling Bast of ancient Egypt is to be found. Try using google to search Lamu cat. Why would they call themselves Amu, if they had nothing to do with the ancient state of Aamu? Large parts of Lamu district are on the mainland, and this was probably the case even in Ancient times. Egyptologists have de-linked Black Africa from Ancient Egypt, so they will take all I am saying as speculation. But I am happy to offer an alternative view.


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robie2 4 years ago from Central New Jersey

I knew that for years Egyptologists were trying to figure out where the ancient land of "Punt" was and there was all sorts of discussion-- didn't know that they had narrowed it down to Somalia, but that makes sense. I did know that Pharonic contact went well beyond ancient Nubia. I just didn't realize how far South of the Sahara it went.


victor ochieng,ku 4 years ago

This is undoubtedly one of the most useful hubs I have come across.


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Thanks robie2. I like your use of the word 'meaty'- Comments do get chunky here and you might like to keep coming back. If you read Petrie's transliterations of hieroglyphics, you will come across terms like 'Aamu, Punt, Mezau, Kush etc. These were all in Sub-sahara Africa, where the Pharaohs frequently took a break to hunt elephants for ivory. Tribute from these places in Thothmes' times was in Leopard skins (Petrie has called them Panthers), Ivory, incense Etc. Punt still exists today as an Independent state in a part of Somalia and Incense is still produced in somalia in significant quantities. Today's Egyptologists lump all Sub-sahara locations as 'Nubia' - misleading to say the least because it gives the impression that it is still a remote part of southern Egypt.


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robie2 4 years ago from Central New Jersey

I've always been fascinated by Ancient Egypt, particularly the XVIIIth dynasty, Akenaten and the whole Amarna thing, so of course I find this hub absolutely fascinating. I had no idea that in ancient times there was so much inter-connectedness between pharonic Egypt and sub-Saharan Africa. I am astonished and delighted and must say I not only enjoyed your hub on this topic, but also the really meaty dialogue in the comments. Thank you so much. I am now your humble follower and consider myself lucky to have found you. You are a most welcome addition to my Hubpages life:-)


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Thanks CMCastro.

I hope my methods show that there is more to a people's history than at first meets the eye. So much is embeded in custom, folklore and the language itself that get material out is a bit like Archaeology. Thanks for your encouraging comment.


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CMCastro 4 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA

This hub is quite an introduction to me to a new way of studying the African culture. I will certainly bookmark your hubs as I would like to refer back to them as I enjoy history of Religion and cultures that existed before and after the time of Jesus Christ. I am a graduate of Theology and feel that my success is what I learn from my own research as it is inspired by prophetic teachings of the Old Testament's David, Solomon, and Daniel. A lot was going on in the world even in those times that the bible does not talk about. Your continent of Africa is flourished with so much history and its beginnings is of great value even today. Thank you for your hub.


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Thanks for encouragement, Lady Guinevere, I will take a look at Adam, Eve and Dolly.


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Lady Guinevere 4 years ago from West Virginia

Excellent and goes well with my hub about Adam, Eve and Dolly.


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Hi anivardiashvili,

Thanks for stopping by and stay with Hubpages.


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anivardiashvili 4 years ago from Georgia

Yes that's right,Kenya is a wonderful place to visit. Hata mimi nasema Karibu sana sana ( I second Emannuel's view and also welcome you to Kenya)


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Thanks Weru,

I have opened a few sites and will do some reading.


Weru 4 years ago

Hello Emmanuel,

A couple of hubs back you had theorized about the meaning of the word 'mugwanja' in Kikuyu. For the answer and its direct link to ancient Egypt, please google "Hekat" counting system. You might just be too shocked at how little has changed in over 3,500 years.


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Good, let's get back on course. Now maybe you can confirm that the Angoi clan are probably represented in the myths about 'cyangoi,' of the chuka.

Ngoi is also the baby carrier, once made of leather by the Kikuyu and later cloth. If the Angoi, the first lot in Egypt went through a period of 'Gu-chiara' - to give birth(the root of the generation 'chyera'), then there was a lot of carrying babies in the Ngoi - so the Angoi clan was essentially a breeding group (women in a harem?).


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ngureco 4 years ago

Hi Kariuki,

I don’t think the issue of numbers here should make any difference to the subject of this article. Whether these people changed their tribe name or not, the people, their culture and their language remained more less the same for thousands of years. For example, ituika for the Kikuyu is just a mirror image of nduiko for the Embu and ntuiko for the Chuka.


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Here is a quotation from Cagnolo that I think says something about the difficulty of estimating a Kikuyu population in 1902:

"It is striking to note the quickness with which at one call of alarm in case of fire or wild beasts invasion, the people gather together. A few blasts of the horn blown in all directions bring before you a gathering of a thousand men, as it were, from nowhere, whence they come completely mystifying." Cagngolo (the Akikuyu)


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

I still maintain that Routledge did not have the tools, to use Drabbo's term, to estimate the entire population in Gaki, Metumi and Karura. At one time, the consolata fathers had to evacuate to Mbiri station because Bowes who had crowned himself the King of Wakikuyu had embarked on his own punitive missions as a result of which no white man was safe from Kikuyu reprisals. How would Routledge have managed to estimate the entire Kikuyu tribe in such 'wild west?' With vast districts where a white man had not been sighted?

Let us also not lose the focus of this hub - that the Ituika has curious coincidences with the Hebseds celebrated in ancient Egypt. Makare (Hatshepsut) is known to have celebrated one. The Kikuyu call a leopard a Ngare. In all probability they called it a 'Ngo (Ngui) or similar word like other Bantus. Then curiously, the Angoi Clan are also called Aithiegeni (those in a foreigh land); and one of the ruling generation names - Mathaathi (often associated with Ndemi) has the Thoth embeded in it. Thoth was the God of writing and I have found it curiuos too that Ndemi which is the proceeding ruling generation has the same roots as ndemwa, the word for letters and writing. I am made to understand that the first students of writing in Kikuyu said 'gutema ndemwa' - to cut letters, meaning to write. Cutting letters was the prefered mode on Egyptian monuments. As I see it, At least Maathathi, Maina and Mwangi superimpose on reckoned Hebseds in Egypt. That is my concern - how to explaing the numerous coincidences.


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ngureco 4 years ago

Hi Kariuki,

Yes, I have a lot of interest in the probable migration and settlement of Kikuyu people along Athi and Tana/Thagana River.

The population of Kenya was 3.4 million people in 1930 and 8.1 million people in 1960. If you take Kikuyu at 22%, you would get a figure of 740,000 Kikuyu people in 1930 which is within Routledge's estimation.

Obviously, these people must have had the vocabulary ‘kuyu’ in their language for thousands of years. And the usage of the phrases, KuyuKuyu, Lake Tana and Tana District in Ethiopia is very interesting. Certainly, these phrases correlate very well with Tana/Thagana as used by kikuyu people in Kenya.

But the Orma people are stretching from Meru to the Tana delta in Lamu. From Meru to Kenya-Ethiopia border are the Borana, and from Kenya-Ethiopia border to Lake Tana are Oromo people. These three peoples are all variants of Oromo and they seem to have provided a ‘workable’ corridor between Kenyan coast and Lake Tana in Ethiopia.


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Hello Ngureco,

Thanks for joining this debate. I would not trust Routledge's estimation. He was settled far from the Larger 'Southern kikuyu (Kabete)' which was more densely populated. He was closer to Nyeri than the wider Muranga district, whose figures he could not have computed. There was hardly any administration beyond Francis Halls Mbiri station. Perhaps if you got figures for 1930, they would be believable because the British were well established in order to collect the hated Hut Tax, and the Paramount Chiefs must have had an idea of the population density in their jurisdiction. The plague that followed white settlers and Railway working coolies is estimated to have decimated 25% of the Kikuyu in some areas and more that 50% in others. If we go by a conservative figure of 33% dead, to include the loses from the 'famine of Europe,' and numerous 'punitive expeditions' such as the ones led by Meinertzhagen where all males in selected villages were anihilated, I highly doubt that a population of 333,000 souls would have increased to its current levels.

My contention is that the words 'of the sycamore' were in use to refer to a core group that had unique religious beliefs in whatever language that carried the day whether it was Luo, or Maasai or even an extict 'Athi language.' The concept of a people belonging to the sycamore is ancient and there exists a story in hieroglyphics os 'Sanehat, son of the sycamore.'

Perhaps the name Kikuyu in the Kikuyu language was coined in Ethiopia. What are we to make of the word 'Kuyukuyu' which the Ethiopians use to refer to the Kikuyu. On this one we can only conjecture.


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ngureco 4 years ago

This is an interesting hub. Thank you, Kariuki.

Routledge in year 1900 estimated the number of Kikuyu as 500,000. In year 2000, we estimated the Kikuyu to be at least 5 million people. That’s ten times as many. If we were to use the same data and extrapolate backwards, we would get 50,000 people by year 1800, 5,000 people by year 1700, and 500 people by year 1600. 500 people by year 1600 would suggest the Kikuyu were just a clan of another tribe.

In my opinion, I would suggest that the name Kikuyu was coined when the people were just around Mount Kenya and not earlier than the year 1500.


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Thanks for the compliments and a most detailed explanation of your concerns about my writing.

My training is neither in Anthropology, Ethnology, nor even Linguistics. To scientists in these disciplines, I may appear quite a greenhorn and my methods may be objectionable. Nonetheless, I have had an interest in languages, myths of origins and Hieroglyphics for many years, which led to extensive reading. I started to notice ‘coincidences’ between Ancient Egypt and the myths and cultures of certain communities quite by accident. This comparative approach to making inferences is not in mainstream disciplines, and not too many people have the patience. Egyptologists for instance, do not want to be burdened with the stories of some tribes in sub-Sahara Africa who claim to have come from Misri.

Prior to joining Hubpages, I had tried writing in forums on Egyptology where the idea of connecting Bantus or even Nilotes to ancient Egypt was not tolerated. The Culture of Ancient Egypt is not considered by western scholars to be part of Sub- Sahara Africa. This term – Sub-Sahara – is designed to create a huge divide between the supposedly ‘civilized North’ and the ‘dark South.’ We can choose to go with the west’s definitions or redefine ourselves, based on the ‘truths’ embeded in our languages and customs such as the ‘Ituika’ described above or information that has been passed down to us in forklore and myths.

Back to the coincidences, I had collected after comparing the cultures between the divide - what was I to do with them? Here, I found space to lay bare these coincidences, make inferences freely and allow the reader to learn something or just be entertained. The discourse between you and I is a fruit of my decision to present these coincidences. Maybe someone somewhere is making further inquiries, using scientific methods that are beyond me for now and soon enough, the truth will out.

Which are the best tools of analysis to verify truths?

If for instance I discover that the ‘Olive tree’ was sacred 'female tree' to both the Kikuyu and the ancient Egyptians, what further analysis is needed? If again the Olive tree is called a Mutamaiyo in Kikuyu, and we discover that Akhenaten’s Grandmother was called Mutemwiya, what stops me from drawing the conclusion that ‘Mutemwiya’ was an honorary title probably meaning ‘the Great Olive?” I am quite sure that others can make inferences from my writing that I have not yet observed, and that is my objective.

If the Jews have had an identity for over 3000 years inspite of the infusion of all the ‘racial types’ in the world, why is it so difficult to fathom the same for the Kikuyu, who are claimed to be jewish by some quarters? Note that Jews came from all over the world to join the state of Israel; there were migrants Europe and then there were the Ethiopian Falashas besides others. Remember there is a group in Zambia called the Lemba who’s DNA has been found to have a Jewish ‘Rabbi’ genotype. If we were to say that the core of the people who call themselves Jews came from Palestine, would we be wrong?


Drabbo 4 years ago

The one thing I will commend you about is going beyond the narratives of colonial history to offer explanations of who we are as Africans -- whether its you area of concern - The Kikuyu or others-- you are trendsetter in this regard. I do a lot research on African social formations- its refreshing to find people interested in this area - and I'll be happy to share all my findings. With regards to using reference like 'bantu', 'hamite' etc - unfortunately for lack of better terms we stuck with these archaic anthropological terms-- the only reason I would use them is many people will immediately understand who i am talking about.

My issue is that you are not thorough with employing the best tools of analysis to verify truths or weed out uncertainity of some of the conclusions you draw. The source of this is how you treat pre-colonial Africa -- you are treating the time between Egypt and the colonial era as one big singular block of time -- That can be looked at as if it had no chronology, complex actors , formations etc It is as if there no movement of time and history :-- That's why its easy for you to make a glaring and bold direct connection of present Kikuyu to Akhenanton.It very difficult to make direct linkages with people in present day North -Africa and even North East Africa -- who are closer geographically and historically to Egypt-- you can imagine the difficulty associated with east Africa. Your very simplistic linkages basically negate Nilotic migrations, social developments of indigenous groups , and general the complexity involved in the formation of various groups. You negate every single historical development that could have happened between 3500 years ago to the colonial era. If you paid more attention to the historical,social, linguistic and cultural developments that led to the formation of the Kikuyu as the outcome -- you would draw very different conclusions - and in fact offer more plausibel explanations as to their origin.What you are doing is just simply connecting two separate snapshots of historical periods and then forging inferences ( using clothing , language etc ) that may link them. You may even have to abandon some very deep seeted assumptions about the kikuyu or for that matter any east african group. First of course the idea that they have existed as intact groups for a long time. Secondly that there exists a 'core' . According to Sarah Tiskoff's research - she is arguably one the leading researchers in the world on population genetics. Genetics explain population movements probably better than any other discpline. Kikuyu genetic make up is : 40% Cushitic, 45% Niger-Kordofanian and 15% Nilo-Saharan. so what would be the the ' core'in this case? If you combine the nilo-saharan and cushitic components (which is more likely masaai or nilotic) and consider that the core. Then you can easily conclude that Kikuyu's are simply bantu speaking Nilotes....so their connection to Egypt is basically the narrative of a Nilotic population. On the Other hand if you consider the 45% Niger Kordofanian the core -- then you would have to contend with explaning how a bantu population moved down from the Nile valley. You would also have to explain why a nilotic group with experience of Egypt would abandon its language and culture and adopt that of a bantu group. The only way to explain all this is simply to state that the history of the newly formed group is not necessarily the history of its parts.


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Thanks for your comment Drabbo. I have decided to answer you in detail in the hope that we can arrive at some middle ground.

I am in agreement with you that most (if not all) ethnic groups are an amalgam of different peoples, fused over centuries. The Kikuyu admit to having incorporated the ‘Athi’ (a pigmy race), the Ndorobo and Maasai. I have also speculated that certain Ethiopian people, most likely the Baci are in the mix. Definitely the Athi, Ndorobo, Maasai and Baci never subscribed to the Kikuyu nation, but anybody who was absorbed willfully or otherwise had no choice. In my home area there exists a family descended from the Ndorobo, and everybody knows it. Other than that bit of history, they are more Kikuyu than I am when it comes to the knowledge of the Kikuyu language and culture.

We definitely have Kikuyu who look Somali, Ethiopian and even like half casts of whites and blacks yet no one doubts they are Kikuyu. These are definitely the genes of all the races that joined the migration, or were absorbed during the migration. If there was a catastrophe and you had to run, your Indian or Arab neighbor may choose to join you and be part of your people. This happens all the time.

I have not made a Bio-genetic conclusion in any way. I have stated clearly that, the ‘CORE’ or ‘NUCLEUS’ if you like, of the people we call Kikuyu came from Egypt. If it is not very clear in the hub, the women were the more numerous and felt themselves to be culturally more superior, having been in the Pharaoh’s Harem. It is for this reason that they were adopted as Gikuyu’s daughters and therefore headed the clans. If a commoner marries the Kings daughter, or even a chief in an African village, believe me the man will be a figurehead and his ‘royal wife’ will call the shots. The children might actually want to identify with the mother’s clan.

Be careful in the use of the term ‘Hamite’ which has been discredited by scholars. Only very ancient books carry that term. The Maasai, who were previously classified as Nilo-hamite, are simply Nilotes. I agree with you totally when you say that, “bio-genetically identical populations do not necessarily belong to the same language or cultural group.” This is obvious in many African countries.

I maintain that the core of the people, who call themselves the Kikuyu including the Meru, came from Egypt. I invite you to read my hub on the Kisii. Their tradition states that they came from Egypt and their Ancestor was Muntu, also called Kintu. I have Identified Mentuhotep as the Pharaoh of the Kisii migration. The Kisii, in their folklore give a family tree that indicates that Muntu bagat a long lineage that includes a man called Mugikoyo (Mu- Gikuyu). When a people say that their ancestor was a particular person, he may not have been a blood relation. This happens even today where an African Head of state is the ‘Father of the Nation,” and the citizens are his children. Mentuhotep was a distant relation of Akhenaten.

“The idea of a 'Kikuyu' political collective or a unified kikuyu conciousness is a very recent phenomenon . The collective associated with 'kikuyuness' in antecedant times did not go beyond bonds of kinship and geographical proximity.”

I fail to agree with you here because, all accounts of the Kikuyu by early explorers indicate that the Kikuyu were xenophobic, had a precise method of defending the borders with fortified villages, spoke one language and adhered to one religion. Granted, clans were sometimes at war with other clans. This happened also with the Maasai, who at times fought among themselves. Though the Kikuyu did not have a Paramount Chief, they had a system of government where a generation of elders were in power for a period of 30 years, with an unwritten constitution on how and when to hand over power to the generation in waiting. All early writers give the impression that the Kikuyu were conscious of their ‘Kikuyuness,’ to use your term. When I read early writers like Routledge, Cagnolo or Leakey to name a few, I do not get the impression you have – that the Kikuyu were an amorphous amalgam of races and ethnic groups of very recent origins. Why then did they resist intruders with a ferocity only rivaled by the Nandi?

I have shown above, that it was possible to have a people called the Kikuyu 3500 years ago but not 5000 years ago. It is the ‘Hebsed festival’ that had such a long tradition. Whatever words were used to mean ‘of the sycamore’ in Egypt identified the group that was associated with the Pharaoh at a given time, so you are right that they may not have known themselves by the present word ‘Gikuyu.’

My thesis is that, the ‘CORE of the people who call themselves Kikuyu today, had come from Egypt.” Kenya has absorbed Europeans and Asians who are not more or less Kenyan than other Kenyans. In a thousand years from now we can safely say that the ‘CORE of the people called Kenyans in the last millennium were Africans. I have no idea how one can prove that the Kikuyu as a group with a common culture have not existed longer than1500 years old, without archeological backing among other evidence. You will need to show some proof.

I have not attempted to make a connection with Nile valley civilizations, though the Kikuyu are part of them. I have merely shown that when a Pharaoh was in flight, a lot of people were displaced and some may have found their way to Mount Kenya. I have also shown that by comparing customs performed in lands separated by time and distance, one can make useful inferences that can spark a debate such as this one. The ‘Hebsed’ and the ‘Ituika,’ are two such customs. I may even have shown that the exodus from Egypt was not one but many. The Kisii may have been part of an earlier exodus. The Kikuyu part of another, while Moses was fortunate to have his enshrined in the Bible.

As I said in the previous comment, I have not implied that others did not come from Egypt. I am aware that the Gods of Egypt are well articulated in the Kalenjin languages. In fact a curious thing is the Hieroglyphics for “boy” read as “WD”, which are the consonants in the Luo word for boy – WUOD.

In Conclusion, Drabbo, I hoped to show that the ancient Hebsed festival was carried on by the Kikuyu as the ‘Ituika’ and served the same purpose. Hebsed translations of both words mean the same thing, which in itself gives room for a whole new write-up.

I hope that by this long comment I have explained where I am coming from. I would be disappointed with myself if I was to mislead my readers.

Thanks for engaging me in the debate, and please keep visiting HubPages.


Drabbo 4 years ago

Emmanuel ..I am questioning whether this is even information in the first place .Its actually quite a lot of misinformation:

1.It Completely ignores the logic of known social formation in much of East africa. Most Ethnicities are an amalgm of different people fusing . The story of resultant groups is not necessarily that of the parts that formed them .The sections of a population that fused with another to form the kikuyu were not Kikuyu and did not think of themselves in that way.We know that Kikuyu are an amalgm of mainly three population types; highland cushites , Nilo-hamites and Bantu's. Depending on where they are situated they will be having varying degrees of each of these types....in fact in some area's it can be easily argued that many of these populations are simply kikuyu-speaking Nilo-hamities or cushites- which would make the idea of Egyptian origins more plausible-- and the inverse is also true there bantu populations who are simply maa speaking. Basically what I am saying is that you cannot make bio-genetic conclusions based on language and culture -- and also bio-genetically identical populations do not necessarily belong to the same language or cultural group. You cannot ignore the lose social structure -- because it is what was the basis of identity. The idea of a 'Kikuyu' political collective or a unified kikuyu consciousness is a very recent phenomenon . The collective associated with 'kikuyuness' in antecedant times did not go beyond bonds of kinship and geographical proximity.

2.Chronologically speaking its actually impossible to have had a population known as Kikuyu in existense about 3500-5000 years ago. Crucial to the formation of Kikuyu was movement of Bantu's to the kenya highlands area and possibly parts of northern Tanzania - many groups had not arrived in the area then. The 'A-Gikuyu' in historical terms are a very recent population -- probably not more than 1500 years. If you can make connections to nile valley civilization it would be most likely the story of groups( nilo-hamite and cushites) that made population contributions to the formation of the people who in the present day we know as Kikuyu.


Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Patkay, it is unfortunate that we cannot recover those secrets. LSB Leakey who had been close to the elders was denied the secrets. When the old men did not receive their dues in payment and the government slapped the ban, the complex procedure of releasing the secrets did not take place. We can only hope that the deconstruction I have done in this hub and the inspiration that will follow others will recover at least a fraction of the secrets. Thanks for your encouragement.

Drabbo, By giving this information,I have not suggested that other commumities who claim an Egyptian origin are lying. I have only directed my energies to the Kikuyu for now. Incidentally, Kikuyu traditions do not have Egypt as their origin. They claim to have always existed in the Mount Kenya area, a proposition I have dispelled with the facts above. I believe that the Kikuyu thought of themselves as 'A-Gikuyu' regardless of their short term alliances with the Maasai or their lose government structure. This is very clear from writers such as LSB Leakey, Routledge, Hobley, Cagnolo and Kenyatta.

The pictures are there to compliment the text as further evidence. I rather like the 'Liverpool' example of what not to use as evidence of a migration.


Patkay profile image

Patkay 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

Emmanuel Kariuki you have pulled another great and informative hub. There is so much to comprehend and learn from your hub. But you have made me fill lost by saying, "During the Itu?ka power handing over ceremony, the secrets of the tribe were handed to the new rulers. In 1939, the British Government proscribed the ceremony so the generation that was to hand over went to their graves with all the secrets of the Kikuyu."

So there is no way we can get those secrets? Very sad and it was just the other day. Any guess on what could have been in these secrets?

Thanks for writing. Keep them coming, written words here will never be lost.


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

ThussaysNanaMarie, Thanks for the appreciation and Karibu. I hope to write more on the subject soon.

Prossylink, it seems the hub serves to boost Kenya as well. That's very fullfulling and thanks the support and encouragement.


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Prossylink 4 years ago from Nairobi

Yes that's right,Kenya is a wonderful place to visit. Hata mimi nasema Karibu sana sana ( I second Emannuel's view and also welcome you to Kenya)


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ThussaysNanaMarie 4 years ago from In my oyster

Highly informative and thorough. It is fascinating to have a history so rich. I too hope to visit Kenya one day. Keep up the good work.


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Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

That was the fastest comment ever Paul. I just published a few minutes ago! Thanks and welcome to Kenya. The Kikuyu have since dropped the traditional attire but there's a lot to see in a tour of the country - the Great Rift Valley; the snow capped mountain and the wildebeeste migration besides the tropical beaches to name a few. We say Karibu (Swahili for welcome).


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Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

This is an outstanding hub. I know that you put a lot of time researching it. I hope to visit your country some day.

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