1920's KENYA – “CUSTOMS OF THE KIKUYU” –part
Jade del Cameron made friends with Jelani, a Kikuyu youth, in her first adventure, Mark Of The Lion, and nourished that friendship throughout her time in East Africa. For her, the friendship was born more out of appreciation of a person’s bravery. While she never fully understood or agreed with the Kikuyu’s beliefs, she respected them.
Most everyone who lived in Kenya Colony had encounters or dealings with the Kikuyu Tribe of Africans. Most did not understand them at all and many of those people never tried, choosing to ignore this entire culture or possibly to exploit it. Others endeavored to learn about their beliefs and customs and pass on their knowledge to others. And so the East African Standard ran a short series of articles in February, 1920 on Kikuyu customs, written by C. Wightwick Haywood.
Mr. Haywood began his articles by commenting on the Kikuyu’s sacred tree groves. He explained that these clumps of trees, standing alone on a hilltop were untouched by any axe as they were the home of Ngai, which is explained was their Spirit. (Ngai is the Maker). The trees had been surrounded by a plant parasite, often a “rubber vine” to the point that the original tree’s branches were merely a non-living support for the vines foliage.
“The Kikuyu consider this form of tree sacred, because it grows from the heavens downward, and not from the earth upwards, as is the habit of all well-behaved and properly brought up trees. They say that Ngai plants the weed in the top branches so that he can make his way down to the earth, and that the white milky juice of the parasite is part of the ‘Ngai’ put there to keep the tree from withering up in the longest drought.”
The Kikuyu believe that Ngai “commands the rains, makes the crops grow, causes the goats and cattle to give milk, and the women to bear children.” But, the author ads, this is done only as long as the Kikuyu observe certain rituals.
Next week: Rituals for Rain and Ngai’s other gifts.
Quotes taken from The East African Standard, Febr. 21, 1920
By the way, The Crocodile’s Last Embrace just received a starred review by Publishers’ Weekly who called it “rip-roaring.” Romantic Times gave it 4 Stars and called it “Enormously fun” and Library Journal’s starred review stated “Do not miss this one.”
MORE MYSTERY TOPICS:
1) Does mystery have to equal murder? I weigh in with the Suspense Sirens on their blog posting at : http://bit.ly/cpprpx
2) Interested in some insight into what makes me and Jade tick? Go to SCENE OF THE CRIME http://bit.ly/ao2gjg for an interesting interview at a great website by author J. Sydney Jones.
NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, and The Leopard’s Prey, all available in trade paperback. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH is available in hardcover. THE CROCODILE’S LAST EMBRACE will be released Sept. 7, 2010. An excerpt and information on ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda
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