The Meru Community

Its interesting to find out how most of the Kenyan communities got their names, it even gets more interesting when the name was adopted from the way another community referred to a particular community. Well this is the case for the Ameru community, their name was derived from a Maasai name Mieru which means anyone who cannot understand the Maasai language. Clearly, the Ameru are not the only people who cannot understand the Maasai language but this is the fascinating bit of studying cultures it makes one laugh at many things. The Meru people would not stop at just having this as their name but they went ahead to name their place of settlement with the same name Meru.

With their origin being traced from West Africa, the Meru people are one of the tribes that make up the GEMA (Gikuyu Embu and Meru Association) community and are close relatives with the Kikuyu, Embu and Mbeere. This community would proceed to settle around the Mount Kenya region in a place known as Meru which can be interpreted to mean the place of quiet forests. Their main economic activity is agriculture and they are best known for their production of Miraa which serves the domestic and foreign markets.

One of the main tourists’ attraction in the Meru community is their council of elders which was known as Njuri Ncheke, this has been brought forward to date. This is the highest rank of leadership in the Meru culture and it is comprised of men of integrity who do not bow to any form of corruption or malice. Wisdom, thorough knowledge of the customs and traditions and experience are some of the distinguishing factors for the members of the Njuri Ncheke. Their main tasks include; settlement of disputes that may arise in the community, teaching and ensuring the passing on of their cultures to the younger generations and enforcing the laws of the community. The Njuri Ncheke only tackles matters relating to the Ameru community which is made of the the following subgroups; Igembe, Mwimbi, Muthambi, Chuka ,Tharaka ,Tigania and Imenti. The Njuri Ncheke also plays a vital role in social economic development in the region for example they were the pioneers of the Meru University which has developed the area to a great extent.

Another tourist attraction in this community is their exquisite cuisines which range from roasted meat (nyama cia gwokia), mashed banana (gitwero) to mashe peas or beans(nyoni).Their naming system is another thing to check out, they gave their children names as a sacrifice to their god and the child was named after someone senior in their lineage. At birth the gender of the child would be announced through ululations 3 for a boy child and 2 for a girl. More information on this community can be found in the Bomas of Kenya or the Meru Museum.

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