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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Northern Kayas of the Mijikenda: A Gazetteer and an Historical Reassessment
Author:Willis, JustinISNI
Periodical:Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa (ISSN 1945-5534)
Notes:biblio. refs., maps
Geographic terms:Kenya
East Africa
ethnic groups
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
History, Archaeology
Nika (African people)
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/00672709609511457
Abstract:The Mijikenda are nine ethnic groups, linguistically and culturally closely related, who live on the southern half of the coast of Kenya and the immediate hinterland. Officially the nine are Giryama, Kauma, Chonyi, Jibana, Kambe, Ribe, Rabai, Duruma, and Digo, though this list is liable to change. Originally the Mijikenda are said to have migrated from Singwaya to the north. They built six initial 'kayas' (fortified hilltop villages), to which three were added later. Sometime around 1830 the people began to move out of the 'kayas'. However, any count will show that the number of 'kayas' far surpasses nine. Some are late creations and others have been described as 'subsidiary'. The compilation of this gazetteer is an preliminary attempt to re-examine Mijikenda historicity. The author lists and gives the geographical locations of all the 'kayas' from the Mwache river north, accompanied by a short history. He challenges the close relationship between ethnicity and particular 'kayas', preferring to see the latter as ritual centres. A new interpretation begins to emerge of the 'kayas' as a place of power and conflict, not the embodiment of a harmonious, consensual past. New 'kayas' were not subordinate or a replacement, they represented real challenges to entrenched powerholders. Bibliogr.