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The Kikuyu (also spelt Gikuyu) hill tribe forms the largest ethnic group in Kenya with about 24% of the country’s population. They migrated to Kenya in the sixteenth century, spread rapidly in it and called it the land of the Kirinyaga (or shining mountains).

According to Kikuyu legend, this hill tribe was founded by a man called Gikuyu. Ngai, the God of the Kikuyu took Gikuyu to the top of the Kirinyaga and asked him to build his home there and gave him his wife Mumbi. Mumbi and Gikuyu had ten daughters – but because the number ten was believed to bring bad luck – the daughters were counted as nine and ‘full nine’. The nine (some say ten) Kikuyu clans – Achera, Agachiku, Airimu, Ambui, Angare, Anjiru, Angui, Aithaga and Aitherandu are descended from these daughters of Gikuyu.

Most of the Kikuyus are farmers. Their main crops are bananas, sugarcane, yams, beans, millet, maize, black beans and other vegetables. They also raise cattle, sheep and goat. Cattle hides are used to make bedding, carrying straps and sandals while sheep and goat are used for religious sacrifice.

Though the Kikuyus are agriculturists by tradition, they are dependable hard-working people, many of whom have turned successfully to business, traveling everywhere for this purpose and even settling down in far-off lands. They are good money managers and often run more than one business successfully. They have a strong thirst for knowledge and believe that every child must be educated.



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