Sacred groves and social change in Kirinyaga, Kenya

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter

2 Scopus citations


This chapter examines changes in the perception and use of sacred groves among the Ndia and Gichugu Kikuyu of Kirinyaga District, Kenya. It analyzes the linkages between religious conversion, wider processes of sociocultural change, and modifications in a particular form of common property resource regime. The chapter focuses on Kirinyaga, some comparative information is included from other parts of central Kenya. Kirinyaga is located on the southern slopes of Mount Kenya. Some of contemporary Kirinyaga’s most beautiful trees owe their survival to their reputation as shrines and ceremonial sites. Kirinyaga was brought under colonial control in 1904, nearly a decade after Great Britain established the East Africa Protectorate. Colonialism undermined the indigenous sociocultural system which supported the sacred groves. Relatively few sacred trees were lost through land appropriation in Kirinyaga. In colonial Kirinyaga, the introduction of new belief systems, political hierarchy, and economic stratification eroded the old bonds of sociocultural unity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSocial Change and Applied Anthropology
Subtitle of host publicationEssays In Honor of David W. Brokensha
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781000239799
ISBN (Print)9780367287467
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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