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Facing Mount Kenya

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  148 ratings  ·  11 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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Sophie Ngugi
Finding out more about my culture in an interesting way but also as academic research, great
Thuita Wachira
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
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
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
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
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
Michal Huniewicz
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.
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.
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
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.
A little more anthropological than I had expected...
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