KENDA MUIYURU by Ngugi Wa Thiong'o

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In his first attempt at the epic form, Ngũgĩ tells the story of the founding of the Gĩkũyũ people of Kenya, from a strongly feminist perspective. A verse narrative, blending folklore, mythology, adventure, and allegory, Kenda Mūiyūru chronicles the efforts the Gĩkũyũ founders make to find partners for their ten beautiful daughters—called “Kenda Mūiyūru” —and the challenges they set for the 99 suitors who seek their hands in marriage. The epic has all the elements of adventure, with suspense, danger, humor, and sacrifice.

Ngũgĩ’s epic is a quest for the beautiful as an ideal of living, as the motive force behind migrations of African peoples. He notes, “The epic came to me one night as a revelation of ideals of quest, courage, perseverance, unity, family; and the sense of the divine, in human struggles with nature and nurture.”

Ūtukū ūmwe Ngūgī nī ahahūkire toro
Akīigua ta ahingūka maitho ma ngoro
Ta arī ūhoro araguūrīrio
Agīthiī methainī akīoya karamu
Na rwa Kenda wa mūiyūru
Kwa ūguo rūūrū ti hithitūri nī kūguūrīrio

Kīguūrīrio kīa wendo

Kīguūrīrio kīa mwīhoko

Kīguūrīrio kīa ūmīrīru

Kīguūrīrio kīa ūcamba

Kīguūrīrio kīa ūmīrīru

Kīguūrīrio kīa ūcamba

Kīguūrīrio kīa ūmenyo


Rīu gītoboke ībuku-inī rīrī


Rīu gītoboke ībuku-inī rīrī
Wīmenyere cia Gīkūyū na Mūmbi
Na cia kenda wao Mūiyūru
Wīiguīre cia ūthaka wa Kenda ūyū
Na ūgima wao wa mwīrī, ngoro na kīongo

 

English translation

One particular night, Ngugi suddenly woke up
He felt like the eyes of his heart had been opened  
He had got a revelation
He went to his living room and took a pen.
He started writing this story about Gikuyu and Mumbi
And their perfect nine.
So this is not history, it is a revelation;

A revelation of love
A revelation of hope
A revelation of perseverance
A revelation of bravery
A revelation of knowledge

Now, engross yourself in this book
Get to know about Gikuyu and Mumbi
And their perfect nine
Learn about the beauty of the perfect nine
Their physical and mental health, and their hearts.

 

 


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