This essay has a total of 809 words and 4 pages.



Jomo Kenyatta’s ethnography, Facing Mt. Kenya was written in the 1930’s about Kikuyu
society during 1890-1910, the early years of British colonialism in Kenya. Since the
coming of the early colonization the Kikuyu people have tried to develop a religious
attitude that would define it’s own culture while adapting forcefully to the European
conforms of religion.

The preconceived European ideas about the African natives were unjust and unsubstantiated.
The missionaries viewed the Africans as savages and that everything that they did was
evil. Missionaries that were sent to spread the view of Christianity would have to
change their beliefs and their social interactions to save them from the “eternal
fire”(p.259). Interesting enough the missionaries overlooked the higher educated and the
more well to do and focused on the more ignorant and less educated. Many Mzungu
(Europeans) were, interestingly enough, often very uneducated in the process they were
about to embark upon. Europeans felt that it was unnecessary to have formal training when
dealing with such savages as the Kikuyu people. Intelligence would suggest that if you
were dealing with people who are uneducated and ignorant you should have some of your most
qualified people on the task.

Missionaries who were devoted to the change of the Kikuyu people took into account none of
groups’ communal life, due to traditions and customs. One of the most principal attacks
on the Kikuyu people was the attempt to demolish polygamy. In order for them to be
accepted by the missionaries, they would have to cease in this practice which was at the
heart of the tribes social structure. Despite these reckless attacks on their culture the
natives saw the chance of an education, a white mans’ education. In order to receive this
small amount of reading and writing lessons from the missionaries the Kikuyu would have to
convert to Christianity and totally disregard most of their religious and communal
beliefs. Missionaries tried to break up the any polygamous relationships that existed
between Kikuyu men and women without any concern to what it meant to the two sexes and the
community. The need for women to be mothers and wives was rooted deep in traditional
collective beliefs. In Kikuyu communities the raising of a family is great cause for rise
in social status. The larger a mans family the better it was for the community as a
whole. This principle now being thwarted by the white missionaries was hard on the whole
family unit. Men would have to send away some of their wives and children whom were a
part of the community. Without polygamy, women would be driven away and risk being
unmarried then shunned out of the community.

The Kikuyu people tried to show the missionaries that the bible itself had polygamy
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