Mukurwe Wa Nyagathanga shrine

Mukurwe Wa Nyagathanga shrine 1

According to legend, when Ngai (God) sent Gikuyu to the land he had chosen for him, he told the man that he would identify his new home by the Mukurwe tree and the twitter of nyagathanga birds. And sure enough, when Gikuyu climbed down  Kirinyaga mountain, Ngai’s abode, there in the garden was the huge tree, with the nyagathanga birds twittering their welcome. Gikuyu and his wife, Mumbi, raised 10 daughters, nine of whom they married off, and soon the population started growing.

Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga is regarded by the Kikuyu people of Central Kenya as the Garden of Eden (no relation to the biblical Garden of Eden). It is believed to be the central point of dispersal of the Gikuyu after they arrived in the Mount Kenya area.

Key Attractions

Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga is a popular attraction among local tourists, especially the Kikuyu who frequent the place to learn more about their history and tribe. From time to time, it is also used by the Kikuyu elders as a place to offer sacrifices to their God, Ngai.  On the site, there are 10 huts, each named after each daughter of Gikuyu and Mumbi. The site is gazetted as a national monument.


The myth speaks of a time when Ngai (the god of the Kikuyu) took the first Kikuyu man, Gikuyu, up his sacred Mount Kenya (Kirinyaga) and showed him a vast area of land stretching from the Aberdare Mountain ranges in Nyandarwa to the west, the Ngong Hills (Kia Mbiruiru) to the South and the Ol donyo Sabuk (Kia Njahi) to the Southeast that he was to give him.

God then instructed Gikuyu to settle at a place near a giant Mukuyu fig tree where he was to build a house for his wife. Gikuyu obeyed even as he had no wife yet. When he descended Mount Kenya, he found a woman waiting for him. The woman was the wife he had been told about. Gikuyu called her Mumbi, which means creator or potter. Gikuyu and Mumbi settled at Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga near present-day Muranga and had 10 daughters; Wanjiru, Wambui, Wanjiku, Wangari, Waceera, Wakiuru, Waithira, Wairimu, Wangui, and Wamuyu.

When the daughters reached marrying age, Gikuyu asked Ngai for husbands for them and Ngai answered after Gikuyu made a sacrifice of a spotless goat at the foot of the same fig tree where he had found his wife waiting for him. The following morning Gikuyu found 9 men at the fig tree (by then Wamuyu was still too young to be married hence the 9 men). After the 9 daughters chose their prospective husbands, the nine couples went on to establish their own homesteads which are the source of the 9+1 clans of the Kikuyu.

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