November 9, 2008
The illustrations below are based on the chapter ‘Tribal Origin and Kinship System’ from the book Facing Mount Kenya by Jomo Kenyatta.
The chapter speaks of the change form a matriarchal system to a patriarchal one. Under the collective name of Mumbi’s Tribe, women continued to be the heads of their family groups and clans for some generations. While holding superior and dominant positions in the community, women became domineering and ruthless fighters, practised polyandry and subjected men to capital punishment and all kinds of humiliation. Men were indignant at their treatment and planned to revolt. As the women were physically stronger than the men of that time, and also better fighters, it was decided that the best time for a successful revolt would be during the time when majority of women, especially their leaders were in pregnancy.
The men held a secret meeting and arranged a suitable date to execute their plan. They embarked on a campaign to induce the women leaders and a majority of their brave followers to have sexual intercourse with them. The women were unfortunately deceived by the flattery of the men, and blindly agreed to their inducements without knowing the wicked plan the men had made to overthrow the women. The men quietly waited for the result and after six moons elapsed, they clearly saw their plan had materialised. They organised into groups and finally carried out the revolt without much resistance.
Leadership was taken over by the men. They decided to change the name of the tribe as well as the names of the clans which were given under the matriarchal system, to new ones under the patriarchal system. They succeeded in changing the name of the tribe from Mumbi’s clan to Gikuyu’s clan. But when it came to changing of the clan names, the women were very infuriated and strongly decided against the change which they looked upon as a sign of ingratitude on the part of the men.
The men allowed the original clan names to remain unchanged and the nine clans in the Gikuyu tribe are still known under the names of the nine Gikuyu daughters who were founders of the Gikuyu clan system.