10+ Things You Didn’t Know About Kikuyu Tribe, People and Culture


Kenya, a country in East Africa that has a diverse people speaking different languages and practicing different cultures. From here hails the kikuyu who are from a group of people called Bantu that inhabits the East African region. The kikuyu People are the biggest ethnic group in the East African country with a population of about 6,623,000 which makes up 23% Kenya’s total population. The kikuyu People speak their mother tongue which is the kikuyu language which they have great love for. Although Kenya has two national languages; English and Kiswahili, Kikuyu People is considered to be the third due to its popularity all over the country. In Kenya, this group of people is mainly concentrated around Mount Kenya which is a highland area in the South-Central part of Kenya. It is not known from which part in particular the Kikuyu ancestors migrated from in West Africa. This group of people has a culture that is dynamic. The kikuyu’s are great people and here are 10 things you didn’t know about kikuyu Tribe, People and Culture.

Kikuyu people

What You Need to About Kikuyu Tribe, People and Culture

The kikuyu are said to have a founder a man called Gikuyu who had a wife called Mumbi and the place that the two settled is full of fig trees that are wild which is a sacred place to this day. Gikuyu and Mumbi had nine daughters who got married and started families and from these 9 clans were formed.

The kikuyu still have a council of elders who are the leaders in the community. These are respected among the people and they give direction as far as the culture and values of the kikuyu people is concerned.

The Kikuyu are organized into age sets which have been the basis of political associates. From these age sets, groups of boys get initiated every year and grouped into sets of generations that ruled 20 to 30 years traditionally.

There have been notable members of the tribe amongst them being the three presidents out of the four that have ruled Kenya so far. The first president of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, who was amongst those in the front line in the liberation Kenya from Britain as the kikuyu were at the front in this fight, The third president of Kenya Mwai Kibaki, the current president of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta, Nobel peace prize Laureate the late Wangari Mathai, the famous novelist of African literature Ngugi wa Thion’go, Dedan Kimathi a freedom fighter, Tom Morello who is a Grammy winner guitarist is also a descent of the kikuyu tribe amongst many others.

On getting married Kikuyu women move to the clan of the husband and all the children she will bear also belong to the clan and the first children are named after the husband’s parents. Subsequent children are named after brothers and sisters and grand parents.

The Kikuyu believe in their creator God who they call Ngai and also in the spiritual presence of their ancestors. Majority of kikuyus are Christians.

The kikuyu have traditional foods such as potatoes, dishes made from beans for example irio which is a combination of maize, beans and potatoes mashed together, vegetables that are cooked and a great number also enjoy the Kenyan national dish nyama choma which is roasted beef. They also love tea which is served which is served with most meals.

The group of people is known for their industrious nature and their main economic activity is agriculture which is introduced even to the children at an early age. They grow many crops which they also eat such as bananas, sugarcane, millet, maize, beans and vegetables, tea and coffee which are cash crops and these they grow on a large scale.

They also practice livestock keeping. Besides agriculture the kikuyu people are also involved in business. They are seen as the pillar of the Kenyan economy. Over time Kikuyus have embraced change and education is now priority for majority of kikuyus and their children.

The kikuyu have great taste in artifacts and art like statues carved by use of hands, jewelry made of beads and African sarongs which they sell locally and internationally. They also embrace music and dancing which they also use to preserve their history. Different dances have symbolic meaning like warrior dances, dances of love, dances for welcoming and so forth.

The kikuyu were a superstitious people with some retaining some of the practices like there is a taboo against whistling, they also believed the number 10 was an unlucky number.