The Kikuyu Economic Life

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When the Gikuyu and Mumbi settled on the slopes of Mount Kenya, they automatically became farmers. The land was beautiful and very fertile. As they bore children, ‘the nine daughters of Gikuyu’, they expanded and took power most of central Kenya. These daughters were Achera, Agachiku, Airimu, Ambui, Angare, Anjiru, Angui, Aithaga, and Aitherandu. As the ladies got married and bore more children for Gikuyu and Mumbi, they spread the more around the slopes of Kirinyaga.

The were heavily agricultural and would grow crops such as bananas, sugarcane, arum lily, yams, beans, millet, maize, black beans and a variety of vegetables. They would also cattle which provided them with milk and hide. The hide was used to make clothes, sandals, bedding and house equipment such as bags. They would also make pots mainly for cooking and barter trade. Woven baskets were also made by the women from the sisal plant. They would use them domestically and sell too.

The Kikuyu were also traders. This came out of a need for things they could not produce themselves. These mainly were tools such as arrowheads, spears, swords and later jembes. The women would travel for long distances to meet the people they would exchange their wares with. These were normally the Masaai, the kamba and Okiek. The most common products that were bartered were the livestock, agricultural produce, iron implements, tobacco, salt and ochre. A market was found in heavily populated places and a middle man who represented the women in the market ensured that the goods were safe in the caravans.

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