Did you know that the rainy season that just started marks the beginning of the Gĩkũyũ new year known as kĩmera kĩa njahĩ (season of black / lablab bean) or mwaka wa njahĩ (year of the black bean)?
The Gĩkũyũ calendar had two seasons that were marked by two rainy seasons. The long rains that were known as mbura ya njahĩ started in kĩhuu kĩa mbere (late March), and the short rains were mbura ya mwere that started in kĩhuu gĩa keerĩ (mid October).
The common notion is that the Agĩkũyũ have 12 months in a year just like in the Gregorian calendar. In actual fact, the mūgĩkũyũ talked of mĩeri or moons, and he had nine moons in a year! Mĩeri keenda. They also counted nine days in a week, not seven. This is because the Agĩkũyũ tied every cycle in life with the divine nine - keenda …but that’s a story for another day :)
Now, whenever there were prolonged droughts, just before the planting season started, the Agĩkũyũ ceremonial elders of the maturanguru grade, having observed signs from insects, made a procession to the mountains to bring specially stored seeds of the season known as kĩgĩna. They were met by elderly women of the nyakĩnyua ngũrũ grade, who received the seeds from the elders, took them to their respective villages and placed them on special crossroad huts known as makũmbĩ ma ageendi (the traveler’s granaries), where they were collected by other women for planting.
Each woman was instructed to first plant the seeds with a wooden planting knife known as 𝐦ū𝐫𝐨 before using the metallic knife known as kahiũ ka ihinda. This was in line with the first wooden knife our matriarch Mũũmbi used to plant the first seeds she received from our patriarch Gĩkũyũ.
It’s believed that Gĩkũyũ was handed the njahĩ beans while in Mount Kĩrĩmambogo known as Kĩa-njahĩ (The Mountain of the Black Bean). What’s interesting is that you can still find wild njahĩ, that’s believed to be as ancient as Gĩkũyũ, growing on the sides of the mountain - even today.
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