Facing Mount Kenya: The Tribal Life of the Gikuyu. Jomo Kenyatta.
London: Secker and Warburg, 1938
This book presents an anthropological study of Kenyatta's ethnic group, the Gikuyu, and their modes of social organization, morality and cultural activity prior to contact with Europeans. Kenyatta gives a very thorough and clear picture of Gikuyu life and custom, painting an almost utopian picture of their social norms and the sophisticated codes by which all aspects of the society were governed.
In contrast to the idyllic image he presents of traditional Gikuyu life, he points to the confusion that ensues when, in the present day, the religious rites and traditions are no longer observed by the whole community.
"Moral rules are broken with impunity, for in place of unified tribal morality there is now...a welter of disturbing influences, rules and sanctions, whose net result is only that a Gikuyu does not know what he may or may not, ought or ought not, to do or believe, but which leaves him in no doubt at all about having broken the original morality of his people." (p. 241)
While I appreciate the fact that Kenyatta was aiming to demonstrate to a European audience that pre-colonial African societies were well-organized, democratic, and harmonious, I feel that from an objective, anthropological standpoint, his presentation of the culture is a bit too glorified. Either that, or we should all be adopting Gikuyu-style democracy. It sounds a little too harmonious to be true!