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Home » Agikuyu (Kikuyu) Language Books

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Published by the Bible Society of Kenya
Compact and light to carry at only 1 lb
The bible has a dictionary of Kikuyu words at the end

Gikuyu or Kikuyu is a language of the Bantu family spoken primarily by the Kikuyu people of Kenya. Numbering about 6 million (22% of Kenya's population), they are the largest ethnic group in Kenya. Gikuyu is spoken in the area between Nyeri and Nairobi.

TheAgikuyu are a group of Bantu people inhabiting East Africa. They are the largest ethnic group in Kenya, and speak the Bantu Kikuyu language as a mother tongue.

For many generations past, accident, geographic and political, had, until the coming of the European, preserved the Agikuyu from the access of almost any external influence or rule, and hence had never been subdued. The Agikuyu used from time to time to imprint a lesson on raiders that was not forgotten. Just before the arrival of the English people, Arabs were involved in slave trade and their caravans passed at the southern edges of the Agikuyu nation. Slavery as an institution did not exist amongst the Agikuyu, nor did they make raids for the capture of slaves. The Arab and slave raiders who tried to venture into Agikuyu country met instant death. Relying on a combination of land purchases, blood-brotherhood (partnerships), intermarriage with other people, and their adoption and absorption, the Agikuyu had been and were in a constant state of territorial expansion. Economically, the Agikuyu were great farmers-because there is a strong evidence that everybody knew that the Agikuyu country was full of food. Besides farming and business, the Agikuyu were involved in small scale industries with professions such as bridge building, string making, Wire drawing, Iron Chain making and medicine. In disposition the Agikuyu were naturally cheerful: merry, loquacious and laughter-loving. They also had a great sense of justice(kihooto).

The Agikuyu nation was divided into ten Clans. The members of each clan had a blood tie in common, but were not restricted to any particular geographical area, they lived side by side. Some clans had a recognised leader, others did not. However, in either case, real political power was excised by the ruling council of elders

Ngai-The Creator
The Gĩkũyũ were- and still are- monotheists believing in a unique and Omnipotent God whom they refer to as Ngai. Both the Gĩkũyũ, Embu and Kamba us this name. God was also known as Murungu by the Meru and Embu tribes, or Mulungu (a variant of a word meaning God which is found as far south as the Zambezi of Zambia). The title Mwathani or Mwathi (the greatest ruler) which comes from the word gwatha meaning to rule or reign with authority was-and- is also used. God is also known as Mwene Nyaga

Mount Kenya and Religion
Ngai or mwenenyaga is the creator and giver of all things, ‘the Divider of the Universe and Lord of Nature’. He (God) created the human community. It is also believed that He created the first Gĩkũyũ communities, and provided them with all the resources necessary for life: land, rain, plants and animals. He cannot be seen but is manifest in the sun, moon, stars, comets and meteors, thunder and lightning, rain, in rainbows and in the great fig trees (mugumo). These trees served as places of worship and sacrifice and marked the spot at Mũkũrũe wa Gathanga where Gĩkũyũ and Mũmbi – the ancestors of the Gĩkũyũ in the oral legend – first settled.

Yet was not a distant God (as known in the West). He has human characteristics, and although some say that He lives in the sky or in the clouds, Gĩkũyũ lore also says that he comes to earth from time to time to inspect it, bestow blessings and mete out punishment (similar to God's visit of Abraham before destroying Sodom). When he comes He rests on Mount Kenya and kĩrĩma kĩa njahĩ (kilimambogo). Thunder is interpreted to be the movement of God, and lightning is the weapon used by Ngai to clear the way when moving from one sacred place to another. Some people believe that Ngai’s abode is on Mount Kenya, or else ‘beyond’ its peaks. Ngai, one legend says, made the mountain his resting place while on an inspection tour of earth. In the account God then took the first man, Gikuyu, to the top to point out the beauty of the land he was giving him.


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