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List of Kikuyu Clans: Their Meaning and Attributes

Kikuyu tribe is currently the largest and most popular ethnic community in Kenya.

They are mostly found around the fertile highlands of Mount Kenya regions since their main economic activity is agricultural farming.  

Kikuyu Clans

The Agikuyu tribe acknowledges their origin from its founding ancestral couple of Gikuyu and Mumbi.

According to the tribe’s traditional belief system, Gikuyu went to the foothills of Mount Kirinyaga (currently known as Mount Kenya) to pray.

He asked his creator, Mwene Nyaga, to bless him with children, and his prayers were answered since the couple later conceived nine daughters.

Each clan now traces its lineage to these female siblings: Wanjiru, Wambui, Waceera, Wanjiku, Nyambura, Wangeci, Wairimu, Wangari, and Wangui.

The Birth of Kikuyu Clans

When his daughters matured, Gikuyu returned to the holy mountain to pray.

God (Mwene Nyaga) instructed Gikuyu to sacrifice a young lamb by lighting a fire using nine sticks to symbolize each of his daughters.

It is believed that from the sacrifice emerged nine strong men.

Struck by Gikuyu’s daughters’ beauty, they all agreed to marry them.

Each family proceeded to build their homesteads after starting a family.

This move led to the birth of the nine clans of the Agikuyu community, known as the ‘House of Mumbi.’

The Meaning and Attributes of Each Clan

1.   The ‘Anjiru’ Clan

The first daughter was named, Wanjiru, because when she was born, Gikuyu’s herds of goats were black, and the child loved to play with them.

She also had a dark skin tone hence the name ‘Wanjiru’ since Kikuyu’s definition of black or dark tone is ‘Njiru.

This clan is recognized to be the first in line since they are the descendants of the firstborn daughter.

Therefore, they are said to have leadership qualities.

2.   The ‘Ambui’ Clan

The second child was the prettiest of all the daughters.

Her name ‘Wambui’ was derived from the Zebra, considered the most beautiful animal.

The Zebra was referred to as ‘Wambui Mishore,‘ meaning the stripped one, in reference to the animal’s black and white stripes.

Apart from being attributed as the clan with the most beautiful descendants, they are also considered doubtful and have a good memory.

3.    The ‘Aceera’ Clan

The third born was named Waceera/Njeri.

The name means a person who loves to move or travel a lot since the daughter loved traveling.

The clan is considered to be natural travelers and explorers.

4.   The ‘Anjiku’ Clan

 The term hard work in Kikuyu means ‘Njiku.’

Gikuyu named her Wanjiku as she proved to be very hardworking.

The Anjiku clan is currently recognized as the most hardworking people in the Kikuyu tribe.

5.    The ‘Aithaga’ Clan

The fifth sibling was named Nyambura, the founder of this clan since she was born during the rainy season (the Kikuyu definition of rain is ‘Mbura’).

They are said to have special powers because their words can influence the ancestors, such as controlling the rainy seasons.

6.    The ‘Aitherandu’ Clan

Wangeci was the sixth child who later formed the Aitherandu clan.

Her name means one who can understand things fast (aitherandu) since she was very sharp as a child.

This clan is believed to be very organized in all their activities since they inherited their descendant’s sharpness.

7.     The ‘Airimu’ Clan

According to the Kikuyu dialect, giants are called ‘Irimu.

Since she was the tallest child in terms of her physical nature compared to her sisters, her parents named her Wairimu.

She is the original matriarch of the ‘Airimu’ clan.

They are frequently attributed to being the defenders of the entire ethnic tribe due to their strong physique.

8.   The ‘Angari’ Clan

Due to her fierceness and braveness since she was a child, the eighth child was named ‘Wangari’ in reference to the leopard called ‘Ngari‘ in Kikuyu.

The clan is considered the most courageous one in the Kikuyu tribe.

9.   The ‘Angui’ Clan

The act of being a lead singer in Kikuyu is called ‘Gu Kuya’ hence the name Wangui, given to Gikuyu’s last born since she loved to sing.

The clan is credited with producing some of the best singers in the entire Kikuyu tribe due to their descendant’s musical talents.


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