KIKUYU, THE SECOND OLDEST BANTU FROM NIGERIA


                                  THE KIKUYI OF KENYA
The Kikuyu of Kenya is another larger sect of the families, far East Africa. The history of the Kikuyu Bantus is complicating as many storytellers seem to fight for the interest of their clans. On the contrary, the suggestion that Kikuyu population were the offspring of one man, Gikuyu was the most suspicious information that did not sink down with real historical supposition. Gikuyu and Kikuyu are two different ethnic groups with different origin entirely. How Kikuyu, a Bantu settlement could come from Gikuyu is not only probable, but fallacious. What is eminent is the fact that the tribe that holds the traditional head of the Kikuyu Bantu is the Abaluya. According to Oral sources, Gideon Were, John Osogo, Daniel Wako, among others, “the clans in Abaluya are over twenty”. Significant enough, they all possess the denoting prefix Aba in their names. They are Abanyole, Abetakho, Abesukha, Abatsotso, Abanyala, Abakabras, Abatachoni, Abamarama, Abashisa, Abatirichi, Abakhayo, Abamarachi, Abasamia, Abagusii etc.

The Kikuyu Bantu could trace their origin to the Western part of Central Africa But the several evidences shown through their traditions, religion and the names of their towns etc. show the features that still last among them through which they could trace their original home. Nnaji noted that Aba is a migration mark of the descendants of the deviants among the sons of God. As he notes,
Aba became populated grossly after more people became involved in the business with the daughters of men. Being found in this, they separated themselves and joined the deviants in the land of Aba. Through this means Aba became more popular among the Umudiala. The Abas were hunters, travelers and explorers. Through such means they founded lands at distant places and settled in them. Remarkable enough, all their lands were called after their ancestral name, Aba.
There is Abak in Akwa-Ibom, Nigeria explained to have derived its name as a recap of their original home in Aba Ngwa, Abia State, Nigeria. Before the taking over of the land of Canaan by the Joshua led travellers, we were made to know that these descendants had travelled that far and settled at the hilly part of the land. There also they called the land after their ancestral home (see Joshua chapters 14, 15 and 21; also Genesis 35: 27). Now, the Bantus of Kenya are found in this same denotation. Is the repetition of this denoting prefix, Aba, just a mere expression of consanguinity among member clans or just as a precise identity? 

Of course, if cannot be a coincidence since greater part of their tradition, religious practices and naming of children all traced their ways to the Igbo heartland where their ancestors were believed to have gone from. Such staring place names as Abamarama, Abashisa, Abatirichi, Abamarachi, Abagusii sound more Igbo than any other language; especially Abamarachi and Abamarama. “Shisa” in Abashisa is directly Nkalaha/Nkanu word while “gusii (gwusii)” in the latter draws connotations towards termination in the Igbo lexicon. By supposition, Abagusii should be the last of the clans and the youngest among her sisters. There is Abateghete in Anambra State shortly pronounced Abatete connoting a similar belief held among the Kikuyu Bantu. When counting, Kikuyu used to say “full nine” instead of the word for ten. To them, ten is relatively a taboo. Maybe it was the same belief that was reenacted in the name Abateghete directly translated as AbaNinth.

The most authoritative works on the history of the Abaluyia and of Kikuyu history, the two books by Prof. Gideon S. Were entitled A history of the Abaluyia of western Kenya: c. 1500-1930 and Western Kenya Historical Texts: Abaluyia, Teso, and Elgon Kalenjin. Outside Prof. Were’s two books, the book that comes close in terms of facts and accuracy is that of John. N. B Osogo entitled A History of the Baluyia. All these books suggest that the history of the Abaluyia is not a recent phenomenon as some amateur historians have tried to suggest. On the contrary the Abaluyia have been conscious of their collective, cultural and linguistic past reflected in their settling pattern from the 12th Century when they moved to their present habitation in Western Kenya, to the present.

Traditionally, the Kikuyu held a worldview that has been referred to as ancestor worship. They believed that spirits of dead can be pleased or displeased like a living individual. The ancestors were honoured as intercessors with God and spiritual powers. They were honoured in the naming system, and people often explain the traditional belief that the actual spirit of the grandparent on other ancestor comes into the new child named after them.  The Igbo refer this elaborate ritualistic and mystic process to Iyi Uwa. It explains a ritual process during which the spirit of an ancestor is called up to formally introduce him to the child named after him. Kikuyu also bear some Igbo names. Apart from direct bearing of Igbo names, the Kikuyu make use of Wa in place of Nwa in Igbo. The legendary novelist and playwright, James Ngugi wa Thiongo is a good example.

The Kikuyu observe this unique ritual pattern of naming children. Although the spirit invocation is no longer prominent among them, the practice of naming children after their ancestors is still followed strongly today.  The family identity is carried on in each generation by naming children in the following pattern:   the first boy is named after the father’s father, the second boy after the mother's father.  The first girl is named after the father's mother, the second after the mother's mother. Subsequently, children are named similarly after the brothers and sisters of the grandmother and grandfather; from eldest to the youngest, alternating from father's to mother's family. And because of the rapid changes in the social and material culture, this naming pattern is an extremely strong and important factor of Kikuyu identity.  

The date contained in many history books resulting from Kenya about the history and time of settlement for the Kikuyu Bantu was 1200 AD. But because the migration that brought them to Mount Kenya was successively approached, looking at the different periods when the different Bantus that settled in the area arrived, the rating had been thus, 1200-1600 AD. Abaluiya which was considered as having the oldest centralized lifestyle among the Kenya Bantus were believed to have settled around that same period. Ancestors of the Kikuyu were believed to have arrived in Kenya during the Bantu migrations of 1200-1600 AD. The Kikuyu developed from several continuous waves of migration and remigration within the area. 

From issues connected to genetic line’s contributions to the Kikuyu, Thagicu is thought to be the earliest Bantu settlers in the area, perhaps around 1200 AD.  The Kamba also incorporate some of those people in the Thagicu of today. They are related to the Dhaiso (Segeju) of northern coastal Tanzania.  It was in Mukurue division of Nyeri district where an identifiable beginning for the modern Kikuyu people is defined. The Kikuyu Bantus are believed to have migrated from central Africa where the rest of the Bantus in Tanzania, Uganda and the nearby Bantu related family members had travelled from.


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