Mijikenda Kaya Forests

The World Heritage Committee inscribed Mount Kenya National Park on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997.

The Mijikenda are a group of nine related Bantu ethnic groups, inhabiting the Kenyan Coast: Chonyi, Kambe, Duruma, Kauma, Ribe, Rabai, Jibana, Digo and Giriama. Kayas were the first homesteads of the Mijikenda people, and were an important cultural symbol to the natives. The Kayas were devoted to worship, burials, initiation ceremonies, while other kayas were used to perform rituals and make traditional medicine.

The Kayas were stable until the mid to late 19th century, due to the rise of colonialism, in which the Mijikenda began leaving their Kayas and settling elsewhere. However, the importance of these Kayas did not diminish, as they were still held as sacred sites.

The Kaya forests consist of 10 separate forest sites spread along the coast, containing the remains of numerous well barricaded villages that belonged to the Mijikenda people. These Kayas are now highly regarded as dwelling places of their ancestors, and are treasured as sacred sites. The forests around the Kaya s have been nurtured by the Mijikenda community.

The Kayas demonstrate authentic traditional practices.

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