Giriama people

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Total population
751,531 [1]
Regions with significant populations
African Traditional Religion, Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Mijikenda, other Bantu peoples

The Giriama (also called Giryama) are one of the nine ethnic groups that make up the Mijikenda (which literally translates to "nine towns").

The Mijikenda occupy the coastal strip extending from Lamu in the north to the Kenya/Tanzania border in the south, and approximately 30 km inland; the Giriama are among the largest of these ethnic groups. They inhabit the area bordered by the coastal cities of Mombasa and Malindi, and the inland towns or Mariakani and Kaloleni.

The Giriama is one of the largest groups of the Mijikenda people in the back-up area of the Northeast coast of Kenya; the Giriama are subdivided into clans which include Thoya, Mweni, Nyundo, Nyale and so on.

In recent years, the Giriama have extended their living space down to the coast, they are now a big part of service employees in the growing tourism centres. Education programmes initiated by the state included building of central primary schools alongside the coast street. School attendance has become compulsory even for girls up to an age of 12 years; the continuous migration of Giriama to places such as Takaungu and Mtwapa has allowed them to get access to paid labour, hence they have become part of manpower resources, which were once dominated by the Chonyi. The relationship of the Giriama to other Mijikenda groups such as the Ribe, Rabai, Digo and Duruma is rather loose; the Kamba and Jigana have mixed with the coastal population in recent decades. Only a very few villages could sustain them; the Kauma have also been assimilated. The area around the Kilifi Creek is inhabited by Giriama up to nearly 90 percent.[2]

Their language is called Kigiriama, or Kigiryama, and is a sub-language of the Kimijikenda. The nine Mijikenda groups speak closely related languages, all types of Bantu language, which is the same group to which the more widely known Swahili belongs; the Giriama grow crops to sell and partake in subsistence agriculture.

The Giriama people experience spirit possession. [3][verification needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1] Archived November 21, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Studies on Musical Diversity – Methodological Approaches, UPM Press, 2011
  3. ^ Reluctant Muslims: Embodied Hegemony and Moral Resistance in a Giriama Spirit Possession Janet McIntosh The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 10, No. 1 (Mar., 2004), pp.91-112

External links[edit]

  • "Ethnologue report for language code: nyf, Kigiryama". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2012-08-25.
  • Johannes Rebmann (1887). A Nika-English dictionary. Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Retrieved 25 August 2012.