Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Facing Mount Kenya” as Want to Read:
Facing Mount Kenya
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Facing Mount Kenya

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  160 ratings  ·  12 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
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Blood River by Tim ButcherThings Fall Apart by Chinua AchebeThe Poisonwood Bible by Barbara KingsolverHalf of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieHeart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
91st out of 1,095 books — 1,129 voters
Things Fall Apart by Chinua AchebeHalf of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieSo Long a Letter by Mariama BâThe Stranger by Albert CamusNervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
Best by African Authors
47th out of 249 books — 121 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 574)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
Sophie Ngugi
Finding out more about my culture in an interesting way but also as academic research, great
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
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
Read for Graduate School African History class. Very revealing and enlightening--and memorable. Clarifies reason behind Mau-Mau.
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...
Kevin added it
Nov 20, 2015
Geoffrey Ndauwa
Geoffrey Ndauwa is currently reading it
Nov 20, 2015
Kinyua marked it as to-read
Nov 09, 2015
Jendiya Johnson
Jendiya Johnson marked it as to-read
Nov 09, 2015
Tashevia Ashford
Tashevia Ashford marked it as to-read
Nov 06, 2015
Hannah Harrod
Hannah Harrod marked it as to-read
Nov 04, 2015
Christian Michael
Christian Michael marked it as to-read
Oct 31, 2015
Cornell marked it as to-read
Oct 27, 2015
Arthur Mbaka
Arthur Mbaka marked it as to-read
Oct 26, 2015
Eweru Boniface
Eweru Boniface marked it as to-read
Oct 25, 2015
Pauline Muthoni
Pauline Muthoni marked it as to-read
Oct 23, 2015
Hannahk marked it as to-read
Oct 21, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 19 20 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism
  • Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire
  • Sara Baartman and the Hottentot Venus: A Ghost Story and a Biography
  • Abigail's Party & Goose-Pimples
  • Going Down River Road
  • What the Butler Saw
  • Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya
  • Enough Rope
  • The Poor Christ of Bomba
  • The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge
  • Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order
  • Abyssinian Chronicles
  • The Slave Trade: The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1440-1870
  • Murambi, The Book of Bones
  • The Honoured Society: The Sicilian Mafia Observed
  • The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom
  • African Game Trails: An Account of the African Wanderings of an American Hunter-Naturalist
  • Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature

Share This Book