M'Goiyu Dance

Kikuyu - M'Goiyu dance

The M'Goiyu dance was an exceptional gathering called by Kikuyu elders in the 1920s, to swear and solemnize a warriors' oath to protect trees. For those of you wondering who the strange white man is, it was the American Consul General, William Lancaster Jenkins, who happened to have with him a cossack uniform, which he considered appropriate for the occasion!

Credit: photo scanned from "Africa Drums", by Richard St. Barbe Baker. It is an unusually perceptive and sympathetic account of both East and Central Africa from a time (1920s) when traditional cultures and their values were under increasing assault from colonisation and racism. Working as Assistant Conservator of Forests in Kenya, he encouraged the Kikuyu and others to plant trees in order to combat land erosion. He also participated in their culture, and was the first (and probably the only) white man to be elected to honorary Kikuyu elderhood. The book is dedicated to "To the Glory of Mwininyaga" - Mwininyaga is another word for the Kikuyu God, Ngai. Baker's efforts led to the "Men of the Trees" movement, which is now worldwide. You'll find more about both him and the Men of the Trees movement at www.menofthetrees.net.

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Traditional Music & Cultures of Kenya
Copyright Jens Finke, 2000-2003

also by Jens Finke
Chasing the Lizard's Tail - across the Sahara by bicycle
Planosphere.com - fine art photography