Kenyatta, Jomo. Facing Mount Kenya: the tribal life of the Gikuyu

Table of Contents

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Untitled Section: ...

Chapter I Ttribal Origin And Kinship System

Relation Between Children And Their Father's Relatives

Grandparents On Both Sides

Mother's Relatives

Relatives By Marriage

Chapter Ii The Gikuyu System Of Land Tenure

Buying And Selling Of Land

Land Inheritance

Pasture Land And Public Places

Ceremony Of Marking The Boundary

Land Tenure And The Coming Of The Europeans

Mogo Wa Kebiro And His Prediction

Chapter Iii Economic Life

Division Of Labour


Children In Economic Activities

Seasonal Calendar

Preparing Fields For Planting

Clearing Weeds



Economic Value Of Sheep And Goats And Cattle

Sheep And Goats As Standard Currency

Trading With The Neighbouring Tribes

Chapter Iv Industries



Type Of Weapons Used By The Gikuyu




Gikuyu Musical Instruments

Chapter V System Of Education ( Prior To The Advent Of The European )

Chapter Vi Initiation Of Boys And Girls

Name Of The Custom

Preparing For Initiation

The Great Ceremonial Dance (matuumo)

How The Girl Is Operated On

Healing Of The Wound

Chapter Vii Sex Life Among Young People

How Ngweko Is Organised

The Rules Governing Ngweko

Sexual Taboos

Chapter Viii Marriage System

Choice Of Mate

First Stage

Second Stage

Third Stage

Fourth Stage

Wedding Day

The Gikuyu System Of Polygamy

The Management Of A Polygamous Household

Duty Of The Wives


Chapter Ix The Gikuyu System Of Government

Ndamathia And Itwika Ceremony


Religious Sacrificial Council (kiama Kia Maturanguru)

Military Organisation

The Cause Of Tribal Warfare


Civil Procedure

Criminal Procedure

Chapter X Gikuyu Religion, Ancestor Worship, And Sacrificial Practices

The Conception Of A Deity

Asking For Blessing

The Naturistic Aspect


Sacrifice Or Prayers For Rain

The Planting Ceremony

The Ceremony Of Purifying The Crops

The Harvesting Ceremony

The Ceremony Of Fighting And Chasing Away Epidemic Or Illness

“ancestor Worship” Or Communion With Ancestral Spirits

Chapter Xi The New Religion In East Africa

Chapter Xii Magical And Medical Practices

Charm Or Protective Magic

Love Magic

Healing Magic

Hate Or Despising Magic. Monuunga Or Roruto

Defensive And Hypnotising Magic. Itwanda

Destructive Magic (witchcraft). Orogi. Poison

Chapter Xiii Conclusion

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Publication Information


Title: Facing Mount Kenya: the tribal life of the Gikuyu

Published By: London: Secker and Warburg, 1953. xxv, 339 p.: ill., map

By line: by Jomo Kenyatta; with an introduction by B. Malinowski

HRAF Publication Information: New Haven, Conn.: HRAF, 2010. Computer File

Culture: Gikuyu (FL10)

Subjects: Mythology (773); Real property (423); Inheritance (428); Marriage (580); Family (590); Kin relationships (602); Kin groups (610); Community structure (621); Disasters (731); Revelation and divination (787); External relations (648); Division of labor by gender (462); Tillage (241); Mutual aid (476); Metallurgy (325); Techniques of socialization (861); Transmission of cultural norms (867); Infant care (854); Body alterations (304); General sex restrictions (834);

Abstract: This book was first published in 1938. The author, a Kikuyu himself, was the grandson of a seer and a leader of his own age group. He was the General Secretary of the Kikuyu Central Association and the founder of the first Kikuyu journal, 'Mui gwithania', and acted as the spokesman of his people in dealing with the British government on tribal land matters. Kenyatta studied anthropology under Professor Malinowski. His strong feelings against European encroachments upon his native land and institutions are forcefully expressed in this book. Later, he participated actively in the Mau Mau movement which led to his capture and imprisonment. 'Facing Mount Kenya' is a description of tribal life with special emphasis on the interdependence of various social, economic, and religious institutions in giving the Kikuyu society its organic unity. The disintegrative influence of European missionary and political efforts upon tribal life is trenchantly commented upon. This source is particularly useful for the understanding of the Kikuyu kinship system, land tenure, handicrafts, the education of the young, initiation rites, age groups, political and legal organizations, and finally religious and magical practices. The presentation is sometimes marred by the misapplication of European terminology to native institutions.

Document Number: 4

Document ID: fl10-004

Document Type: Monograph

Language: English

Field Date: no date

Evaluation: Anthropologist-5

Analyst: Robert Lee ; 1958

Coverage Date: 1920-1938

Coverage Place: Kenya

LCSH: Kikuyu (African people)


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