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People of Kenya: Tharaka


Tharaka occupy the low plains between the slopes of Mount Kenya in the west and the upper Tana River in the east. Their history of immigration dates back to the spread of the Bantu people. There are about 100,000 in population.

They are farmers, keeping cows, goats and sheep and growing cereal crops, cotton, and sun flowers. Among the tharaka people a sense of belonging is a very important in their aspect way of life .A man has to go through several stages in life and education before reaching this highest state.

The most respected person is a “Mukuru” (elder), who gives advice and settles disputes in the community. Like the other Bantus men are involved in circumcision as passage of childhood to adulthood. Marriage brings the woman’s family into close relation with the man’s and involves a high bride price paid by the husband’s father to the wife’s father.

During the ceremony, there is a lot of celebrating and beer drinking as well as other celebrations taking place during circumcision ceremonies, on the birth of a child and in the harvests of June and January.

Christianity has spread rapidly since the arrival of the Pentecostals in 1960 and after Independence when mission schools were allowed to open. An estimated 20% are active Christians, but 70% have changed from traditional religion and believe that Jesus is the Son of God.