A community based organization in Kirinyaga, Kenya Indigenous language forum (KILAFO) has taken up a campaign aimed at making Kirinyaga community identified as a distinct tribe.
The officials of the forum who include the chairman Rev. John Kangangi and the treasurer Julius Gicovi Ngure said they would push until the community is given their own identity.
“We are not Kikuyus as many have been made to believe, we have our culture and language which is completely different from the Kikuyu language,” said Rev Kangangi.
The two officials said the new constitution is clear in that the state is mandated to promote local languages beside the other two national languages, the Kiswahili and the English languages.
Rev. Kangangi said for a long time, people of Kirinyaga were classified as Kikuyus only at times when the leaders want their support in the general elections.
“It is evident we were never regarded even in the formation of the Gikuyu Embu Meru Associations (GEMA) which for a long time fought and advocated for the rights of the three perceived major communities in the Mt. Kenya region.
He said the time has come for the community to stand up and be counted with others, especially in the promotion of Kirinyaga language and their culture.
“We need official communications from the county government done in our language which is best understood by the local community,” said Ngure.
Ngure said they were also pushing for translation of the Bible in Kirinyaga language, why should other communities have their Bible translation and not our people here in Kirinyaga,” he said.
“Why a small tribe like the Mbeere should be classified as a tribe and not the Kirinyaga people who are more in numbers,” he said.
He said they have been living a lie assuming they were Kikuyus which should now come to an end.
Ngure said even their origin is not the same with the Kkikuyu tribe which is said to have been Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga having their elders descending from an area between Tigania and Maua in Meru.
He said it is the colonial government which grouped the community as Kikuyu despite the protest by the elders.
“We want to have our identity back and we hope the government will consider and give us a separate identification number just as it happens with other communities in Kenya,” he said.
He said the campaign has managed to bring together leaders in Kirinyaga including the members of parliament who have promised to push for the identity of the community.
By Irungu Mwangi