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Published:September 10th, 2006 05:40 EST
Folk Tales from the Agikuyu of Kenya- Part 1: Gikuyu and Mumbi

Folk Tales from the Agikuyu of Kenya- Part 1: Gikuyu and Mumbi

By Juliet Maruru

Long, long ago, in the beginning of time, Ngai the creator of the great world made Gikuyu, the father of Agikuyu. Ngai gave Gikuyu a large piece of land, from one end of the horizon clear across to the other end of the horizon. In between the horizons were rivers, valleys, forests and therein were fruits, vegetables and nuts of all kinds. Also resident on Gikuyu’s land were animals of all sorts.

Ngai used to live at the top of the great mountain Kirinyaga [Mt. Kenya].

One day Ngai took Gikuyu to the top of the mountain so that Gikuyu could see all his land. Ngai showed him a spot where there were growing huge Migumo trees and told him to go and build his homestead there. The spot with the huge Migumo trees was called Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga. Ngai told Gikuyu, “Whenever you have a problem, you will take a goat from the animals of the land, and sacrifice it under the Migumo trees and raise your arms towards Kirinyaga and I will come to help you.”

Gikuyu went down the mountain to the spot he had been shown. When he got there he found a beautiful woman waiting for him. He named her Mumbi and took her as his wife.

Gikuyu and Mumbi had nine daughters together but had no sons. When the girls had grown older, Gikuyu wanted them to marry but there was no one to marry the girls. So he decided to go up the great mountain and ask God for help.

When he got to the top of Kirinyaga, he found Ngai and told him his problem. Ngai told him to go back to his homestead and sacrifice a lamb and a kid under the Migumo trees and his problem would be solved. Gikuyu did as he was instructed and alas! From the smoke of the sacrifice appeared nine handsome young men. 

Gikuyu married the young men to his daughters. And from the nine couples came the nine clans of the Agikuyu. Soon, the Agikuyu clans filled all of Gikuyu’s land from horizon to horizon.