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Facing Mt. Kenya

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Facing Mt. Kenya

Jomo Kenyatta someone who came from a Gikuyu tribe but he eventually adapted to the new changing Africa. Kenyatta actually was the first President and he also adapted to the Western influences by wearing a suit and driving in Cadalacs. But even though he did very well in adapting he was still very proud of his heritage and the old ways of his people. There even seems to be a tone in his writing of nostalgia, and a little bit of bitterness to the people who came in to start the change of Africa. I would judge Kenyatta’s presentation of an African society to be a very thorough study and a valid one because he did live that life while it lasted and knew what he was talking about rather than a historian from outside looking in, or even a traveler like Ibn Battuta. I think it is even better than the epic of Sundiatta as a source for the life and culture of the African people because he went into great detail to tell us what that was.

Kenyatta’s over all approach was to tell his story of his tribe. He went into great detail to talk about the ways of his people the dynamics of the tribes and the family. He puts stress on the importance of the family and that things had to be done according to tradition. You could tell that he took pride in these traditions when he talked about how he had the privilege to participate in one of the ceremonies to ask God for help. From this he explained to us what role the people thought that God played. They thought that he was busy tending to other very important things so that he could not deal with every little thing that went on in these peoples lives. That is why the family was so important, if something big did come up the whole family had to come together to ask the help of God and that way he knew that it was something important that they could not handle on their own. This is one example though of how the did have their own ways but they had a common sense too. When someone got sick they would first go to the medicine man and try their own remedies before going to God. When Kenyatta got to participate in a ceremony it was for the crops and the drought that was going on. His overall approach was to tell of his culture through stories and to explain their customs as thoroughly as possible so that it could be understood. In a way it seems like he wanted to have that life understood so that it could lead to people appreciating it as what was around before the influence of foreigners came into play. You get the sense that he doesn’t like how the foreigners came into his country and told them that basically what they were doing was wrong. For example, when talking about his religion and what they did, he said that the foreigners thought that it was witch craft and put a negative connotation with that. It sounded like he didn’t like that these people were coming in trying to change what had been going on for years and years before them. When he talks about this subject you definitely get the sense that he has a chip on his shoulder. All of these stories that he is telling are from memory. His people never wrote anything down everything was passed down orally from generation to generation.

I believe that Kenyatta’s main audience is the young people that are now living in Africa that do not know life before the foreign settlements. He wants them to know about the agriculture and the religion. He also wants them to know about how they ran things with their own form of government whether that be the family and the elders or the extended families that would get together for special circumstances. Another example of Kenyatta’s bitterness towards outside influence in respect to the government is this, “ From the ndemi generation onwards the principles of democratic government, as laid down by the first itwika, continued to function favorably until it was smashed by the British Government, who introduced a system of government very similar to the autocratic government which the Gikuyu people discarded many centuries ago.” In a way he is telling the people of his land that life was going on just fine with out the British and would have still been going on fine with out them if they had never come into play. The other audience I think is that of the outside world. To those that may not have heard of the Gikuyu before.

The audience ties into the purpose of Kenyatta’s writing this study of his own people. He was the first African to write something about the African people and their culture. He gave a first hand account of what it was like to live in the early Africa, what you did and what you were supposed to do. I believe that one of the purposes of writing this study was to educate the younger people who now live in Africa. He wanted to tell them what it was like before outside influence, what went on and how things could have still been like. I think he wanted to bring back the culture and ideas of the past. He put a lot of emphasis on the fact that they believed in one God who was not to be bothered for every little



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