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Facing Mount Kenya

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  188 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Facing Mount Kenya An eminent scholar and nationalistic leader presents a study of African tribal life as represented in his own Kikuyu society Full description
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 12th 1962 by Vintage
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Thuita Wachira
Dec 03, 2013 Thuita Wachira rated it liked it
It certainly outlines Kikuyu culture but not in a purely anthropological vein, but in a castigating manner to the Europeans who viewed traditional African culture as primitive. I'd have been more pleased with the book had it stuck to merely giving an accurate picture of Kikuyu culture as opposed to interspersing anthropological and ethnological writing with long detours and diatribes against British views on African culture. I however understand that the writer did live in colonial Kenya and the ...more
Jul 19, 2013 Stu rated it liked it
Facing Mount Kenya is absolutely essential reading for students of Kenyan culture, and remains a fine overview of the Gikuyu (Kikuyu) people, as well as a good case study for general readers in African studies. Jomo Kenyatta, who would go on to be, arguably, the most important figure in Kenyan history, gives a plainspoken dissertation on his people in a style reminiscent of Franz Boas or Kenyatta’s academic mentor Bronislav Malinowski. He is not reticent on sexuality, emulating Margaret Mead’s c ...more
Sophie Ngugi
Finding out more about my culture in an interesting way but also as academic research, great
Scott Cox
Many years ago I read this fascinating autobiography by Jomo Kenyatta which tells the story of Kenya's struggle for independence. However the book is also a fascinating look into the early 20th culture of this east African nation. Kenyatta was of the Kikuyu tribe, and the reader learns much about the customs and mores of the Kikuyu, and how they differed from other regional tribes such as the Maasai and Luo. Kenyatta was educated at the Church of Scotland Mission at Thogoto, and some of the earl ...more
Feb 14, 2014 Kym added it
Shelves: africa
I read this in school in Kenya in the early 80s. Obviously that was a long time ago so the details are hazy but I remember liking the book although that might have been mostly due to 1) I was a huge bookworm and loved reading anything I could get my hands on and 2) being a massive fan of Jomo Kenyatta (he was President when I lived in Kenya and I saw him speak in person as well as on television etc when I was a very young girl.) Going to add it to me Want to Read/Re-read books on/by/about Africa ...more
Jan 07, 2015 Nadia rated it it was amazing
Facing Mt. Kenya is an ethnography about the culture of the Gikuyu people of Kenya. As early as the 1800s, ethnographies became an important means of recording the history of African peoples. Due to the legacy of colonialism and Eurocentrism, there was often a great neglect in the education system (of colonial Africa) in the teaching of African history, ironically enough. For example, Yoruban scholar Samuel Johnson once stated, "Educated natives of Yoruba were all acquainted with the history of ...more
Aug 04, 2013 Traze rated it it was amazing
Facing Mount Kenya is a fantastic book. It details the many aspects of Gikuyu tribal life (& to a large extent African tribal life) before the arrival of the Europeans.

As some have already ventured to explain, Facing Mount Kenya is not politically neutral. Kenyatta's partisanship doesn't fail to bleed into every other passage in the book. This is unfortunate as it kind of takes away from the book's academic nature and impartial premise. Nevertheless the book is still the best resource out t
May 31, 2015 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read for Graduate School African History class. Very revealing and enlightening--and memorable. Clarifies reason behind Mau-Mau.
David Wintermeyer
Excellent but dense
took much longer to read than fiction
Joel Shisili
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michal Huniewicz
Nov 18, 2013 Michal Huniewicz rated it really liked it
This is a very important book historically - African story told by an African rather than a Westerner. I was hoping it would be "Pan-Kenyan", but Kenyatta only deals with his tribe - the Kikuyu - their customs, beliefs, structures, and how they were affected by colonialism. It is written from his point of view and it is not objective, but Kenyatta's book does invite us to do what the white settlers in East Africa didn't bother to do - to try to understand the African mind without prejudice.
Jul 19, 2008 Kevin rated it it was amazing
includes a lengthy satire of western artifice and exclusion and has a three page description/oral history of a pre-patriarchy female rule (no time-frame is offered), the discussion of polyandry, how female names were carried over to offspring, and even the perhaps mythic tale of the female rulership's overthrow (a story too good to ruin here). i read this outloud when i wants to freak them out.
Mar 22, 2015 Kiragu rated it it was amazing
I have been wondering what I'll tell my kids of Jomo Kenyatta's legacy. I found the perfect, befitting answer in this book. I have also been extremely curious to know how the Gikuyu went about life traditionally. Thanks to him, the ways of the Gikuyu, which sadly are now forgotten and unknown to the latter generations, are immortally well recorded. Great read!
David Smith
Jul 25, 2011 David Smith rated it did not like it
It's a lie - I didn't finish reading this book. Will now admit that I'm not likely to, unless it's the only book available in the departure lounge and the flight has been delayed for three days. Sorry President Kenyatta - simply found it too boring - words I rarely use about anything but log frames.
Dec 08, 2015 Hubert rated it it was amazing
Amazing early anthropological account of Kikuyu life by London-trained anthropologist Jomo Kenyatta. Although it seems dated these days, it remains an important text.
Jan 16, 2016 Nunga rated it really liked it
Every kikuyu must read this book. Mwacha mila ni mtumwa. A historians gem.
Mar 08, 2007 Iben rated it it was ok
A little more anthropological than I had expected...
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