Gikuyu Embu and Meru Communities

The ancestors of the three communities who live around Mount Kenya, namely the Gikuyu, Embu and Meru preserved their memories about the glory of Mount Kenya in what appeared to many as simple myth. The so called myth was authenticated in referential scripts to the Gikuyu, Embu and Meru communities who lacked an expressive art of writing save “gichandi” writing of the Gikuyu people. Gichandi was linear picturegram inscribed on a gourd with the star as a central character especially in poetry. White missionaries killed gichandi because it was not in line with conventional characters. Gichandi received the first salvo because of its complicated nature to the foreigners and the guiding policy aimed to bring down Africas achievements in order to build Africa anew based on European setup. Gichandi was found to be satanic and proscribed. NB. Gichandi was the only original form of writing south of Sahara.

When one sets his or her eyes on the majestic nature of Mount Kenya for the first time, it becomes a sight to behold. The sight transcends from the physical majestic moment to spiritual serenity. One enters a moment of spiritual joy that is terminated only by a sigh of relief. To all who have set their eyes on Mount Kenya for the first time, give similar experiences. Others admit they lack words of expression.

Since time immemorial, according to Gikuyu old tradition, a man who had developed stress, emotions and other disturbances was required to stay put while gazing the peaks of Mount Kenya. The aged and the weak were supported by their attendants while undergoing the homeopathic process. The procedure did not necessarily require the services of a traditional medicine man. It was one on one in Mount Kenya.

In modern psychiatry theories of Sigmund Freud and his psychotherapeutic technique and the distinct reforms and psychoanalysis developed by Jung and Adler would be short of a concrete justifiable challenge to this old wisdom.

Women with similar problems, unlike men, were taken to the river.

Among the Gikuyu, Embu and Meru communities, running water and the sound of water as it hits the rocks, banks and so forth, was known to sooth the body and the mind. The woman with such disorders was required to sit at the bank of the river and submerge her feet in water, watch the water as it pervades and cascades and finally splashing on rocks. The movement of water and the sound of it psychologically put the distressed mind to rest and allow the soul searching process. Before piped water was brought to the villages and homes it was normal to see village women walking in Indian file carrying water vessels to the river. Each of them knew and sought out the benefit of river therapy and more often women married to quarrelsome husbands took more time in the river. Women could easily tell the couples in strained relationships.

Well, we have “rescued” our wives from fetching water from the river, but we have not trained more Sigmund Freud to attend to the high number of mental disorders among them.

Copyright: Gikuyu and Mumbi Cultural Museum