Agikuyu People Mythical Origin – Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga

Inter-community mingling and absorptions experienced by the Agikuyu people over a long period of time may have led to telling diluting effects on the community’s customs and traditional knowledge. Introduction of foreign religions also played a major part by aggressively introducing foreign cultures and values and further discouraging traditional ways of life of the people.

Colonization introduced modern educational and urbanization; as well as increased interaction with outsiders in central Kenya which also played an important part in blurring Gikuyu communal memory and values.

But the Gikuyu myth of origin in Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga remains central to the Gikuyu sense of becoming a separate people and has undoubtedly been used to make a lasting claim on their core living area in the Mount Kenya region. The myth encapsulates the religious belief that Gikuyu country is God’s endowment and their inheritance forever.

As legend has it, the ancestors of the Agikuyu people are Gikuyu and his wife Mumbi from Mukurue wa Gathanga. It is popularly believed that the two had nine daughters; actually ten or kenda muiyuru (full nine), which means ten but for magical reasons which forbid exact counting of either human beings or livestock because it was widely believed that such counting would invite calamity, the Agikuyu equivocated on the number.

The ten Gikuyu clans are said to be descendants of the ten daughters of Gikuyu and Mumbi. The names of the daughters are given and the names of the clans are given against each daughter’s name: the eldest Wanjiru – Anjiru; Wambui – Ambui; Wanjeri/ Waceera – Aceera; Wanjiku – Agaciku; Wakiuru/Nyambura – Ambura, Akiuru, Ethaga (Aithaga); Wairimu/ Gathigia – Airimu or Agathigia; Wangari – Angari or Aithekahuno; Waithira/ Wangeci – Aithirandu or Angeci; Wangui – Angui; Wamuyu – Aithiegeni or Aicakamuyu which was formed by the descendants of a girl who became an unmarried mother.

While it is debatable whether this is the actual origin of the Gikuyu clans, it is true that all Agikuyu trace their descendants here, not withstanding whether Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga was the ‘primary’ or ‘secondary’ dispersal area of the Agikuyu people.

During the tour, Mr. Kimani took us round the site that had the huts with the names of Gikuyu’s daughters, a shrine, a resource center managed by the National Museums of Kenya and a stalled construction site of a tourism enterprise. He also showed us the setting of a traditional Kikuyu homestead and the cultural artifacts used. He bid us farewell and blessed us for our safe journey back home.

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