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Kikuyu/ Kĩkũyũ
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The Kĩkũyũ (otherwise spelled Gĩkũyũ) ethnic group is Kenya's most populous ethnic group. They total more than 4.5 million which is about 20% of Kenya's total population. They cultivate the fertile central highlands, sometimes known as Kikuyuland, and part of the lush Great Rift Valley
Although uncertain, ethnologists believe the Kĩkũyũ came to Kenya from the north and west and settled in present-day Kenya in the 1500s. They were originally hunter-gatherers but also kept livestock's with which they migrated in the course of the seasons to different parts of the country (nomadic pastoralists).

The Kĩkũyũ were generally on good terms with the Maasai -- their neighbors, with whom they traded extensively. Colonialism however disturbed this order. Beginning in the 1880s, the British settled first on the coast and then when building the railroad from the coast to Lake Victoria, also in Kikuyuland. They confiscated land from the Kĩkũyũ who were confined to a small reserve unable to cultivate their land.

The Kĩkũyũ was the most active ethnic group during the fight for Kenyan independence, with many of the Mau-Mau being drawn from their number. Already in the 1920s organized resistance against the colonial power was set up through the Kikuyu Central Association. After World War 2 the Kĩkũyũ were especially restless and the Mau Mau were form, lead by Dedan Kǐmathi. He is credited for leading the resistance which lead to defeat of the colonial government.

Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's first president, was a Kĩkũyũ. Kenya's third president is also a Gkűyǔ named Mwai Kǐbakǐ who won the 2002 elections in a landslide against ex-president Daniel Arap Moi. The famous Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o is a Kĩkũyũ who now writes exclusively in Gĩkũyũ and Swahili.

The Kĩkũyũ speak a language with the same name. It is part of the Bantu group of languages.

See also: Gikuyu language

In the Kĩkũyũ religion, there is only one, monotheistic God called Ngai (worshipped also by the Maasai and Kamba), who lives on the top of Mount Kenya (which they call Kǐrǐnyaga).


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