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Eli Anderson
Eli Anderson

Ndai na Gicandi: The Ancient Art of Kikuyu Riddles and Puzzles



Ndai na Gicandi: Kikuyu Enigmas and their Cultural Significance




The Kikuyu people of Kenya have a rich and diverse oral tradition that includes various forms of poetry, proverbs, riddles, stories, and songs. One of the most intriguing and unique genres of Kikuyu oral literature is the Gicandi, a type of enigmatic poetry that challenges the listener's wit and knowledge.




ndai na gicandi kikuyu enigmas pdf



What is Gicandi and how is it performed? What are some examples of Kikuyu enigmas and what do they reveal about the Kikuyu culture and worldview? How can you access and appreciate this ancient art form today? In this article, we will explore these questions and more as we delve into the fascinating world of Ndai na Gicandi: Kikuyu Enigmas.


What is Gicandi?




Gicandi is a term that refers to both the musical instrument and the enigmatic poetry that accompanies it. The instrument is a small elongated gourd that is decorated with symbolic signs and cowrie shells. The inside of the gourd contains seeds or pebbles that rattle against thorns pierced through the sides, producing a characteristic sound. The instrument is also called Ndai, which means "the thing that speaks".


The poetry that is sung with the Gicandi is composed of over 150 stanzas, each containing an enigma that has to be solved by the listener. The enigma can be a metaphor, a simile, a paradox, a pun, or a wordplay that requires cultural knowledge and logical reasoning to decipher. The singer of the Gicandi is called Muini wa Gicandi, which means "the owner of the Gicandi".


The performance of the Gicandi is a dialogic challenge between two poets who compete in a battle of wits in front of an audience. One poet proposes an enigma first, and the other has to explain it and propose the next one in turn. The competition goes on until one of them fails to give the correct interpretation and loses the game. The loser has to hand over his instrument to the winner.


What are some examples of Kikuyu enigmas?




The Kikuyu enigmas are not easy to translate or understand without proper context and explanation. They often use figurative language, cultural references, double meanings, and hidden clues to convey their messages. Here are some examples of Kikuyu enigmas from the Gicandi collection, along with their interpretations:


Ndai: Njamba ya mũtĩ nĩ mũtĩ (The hero of a tree is a tree)


  • Explanation: This means that a tree can only be cut down by another tree, i.e., an axe made from wood. It implies that one's enemy can be someone from one's own group or family.



Ndai: Mũtĩ ūrĩa ūtari mũtĩ (A tree that is not a tree)


  • Explanation: This means a banana plant, which is technically not a tree but a herbaceous plant. It also suggests something that looks like something else but is not.



Ndai: Njohi īrĩa ītari njohi (A beer that is not a beer)


  • Explanation: This means honey, which is also a fermented drink but not made from grains like beer. It also implies something sweet and desirable.



Ndai: Mũndũ ūrĩa ūtari mũndũ (A person who is not a person)


  • Explanation: This means a corpse, which is no longer alive or human. It also implies something worthless or pitiful.



Ndai: Mũkoma ūrĩa ūtari mũkoma (A brother who is not a brother)


  • Explanation: This means a cousin, who is related by blood but not by direct lineage. It also suggests someone who is close but not very close.



What is the cultural significance of Gicandi?




Gicandi is more than just a form of entertainment or amusement. It is also a way of preserving and transmitting the Kikuyu culture, history, values, and worldview. The enigmas reflect the Kikuyu's perception of reality, their social norms, their moral principles, their religious beliefs, their historical events, their ecological knowledge, and their linguistic creativity.


Gicandi also serves as a tool for education and socialization. It teaches the listeners how to think critically, analytically, creatively, and culturally. It also fosters social interaction, cooperation, competition, respect, humor, and fun among the participants.


How can you access and appreciate Gicandi today?




Gicandi is an ancient art form that is in danger of disappearing due to modernization, urbanization, globalization, and cultural assimilation. There are very few Gicandi singers left today who can perform this genre authentically and accurately. However, there are some efforts to revive and preserve this cultural heritage for future generations.


One of the most comprehensive sources of information on Gicandi is the book Ndai na Gicandi: Kikuyu Enigmas by Vittorio Merlo Pick, an Italian Consolata missionary who recorded 126 stanzas from a Gicandi singer named John Kahora in 1930. The book contains the original Kikuyu text, an English translation, an explanation of each enigma, and illustrations of the instrument and its drawings. The book also provides an introduction to the history, structure, performance, and meaning of Gicandi.


Another way to access and appreciate Gicandi today is to visit the Gikuyu Centre for Cultural Studies (GCCS), a non-profit organization that aims to promote and preserve the Kikuyu culture through research, documentation, education, and dissemination. The GCCS has a website (https://mukuyu.wordpress.com/) where you can find articles on various aspects of Kikuyu culture, including Gicandi. You can also contact them for more information on how to learn or experience Gicandi firsthand.


Conclusion




Gicandi is a unique and fascinating genre of Kikuyu oral literature that showcases the Kikuyu's poetic genius and cultural richness. It is also a valuable source of knowledge and wisdom that can enrich our understanding of ourselves and others. By learning more about Gicandi and appreciating its beauty and significance, we can help preserve this ancient art form for posterity.


How to download Ndai na Gicandi: Kikuyu Enigmas PDF




If you are interested in learning more about Gicandi and Kikuyu enigmas, you might want to download the PDF version of the book Ndai na Gicandi: Kikuyu Enigmas by Vittorio Merlo Pick. This book is a rare and valuable resource that contains the original Kikuyu text, an English translation, an explanation of each enigma, and illustrations of the instrument and its drawings. The book also provides an introduction to the history, structure, performance, and meaning of Gicandi.


However, finding and downloading this book online is not easy. The book was published in 1973 by the International Missionary Council (IMC) in Nairobi, Kenya, and it is out of print and hard to find. There are only a few copies available in some libraries and online catalogs, such as WorldCat.org. The PDF version of the book is not available for free download on any website.


One possible way to download the PDF version of the book is to contact the author or the publisher directly and ask for their permission and assistance. Vittorio Merlo Pick is an Italian Consolata missionary who lived and worked in Kenya for many years. He is now retired and lives in Italy. You can try to reach him by email at vittoriomerlopick@gmail.com or by phone at +39 011 660 22 11. The International Missionary Council (IMC) is a Christian organization that promotes intercultural dialogue and cooperation among churches and missionaries. You can contact them by email at info@imcworldwide.org or by phone at +44 20 7636 6396.


Another possible way to download the PDF version of the book is to use a third-party service that can scan and convert the physical copy of the book into a digital format. There are some websites that offer this service for a fee, such as ScanCafe.com, ScanMyPhotos.com, or ScanDigital.com. You can also use a local scanning service near you or do it yourself with a scanner and a software program.


However, before you use any of these methods, you should be aware of the legal and ethical issues involved. The book Ndai na Gicandi: Kikuyu Enigmas is protected by copyright laws and you need to obtain the author's or the publisher's consent before you copy or distribute it. You should also respect the cultural and intellectual property rights of the Kikuyu people who are the original creators and owners of Gicandi and Kikuyu enigmas. You should not use or share the book for any commercial or malicious purposes.


Conclusion




Gicandi is a unique and fascinating genre of Kikuyu oral literature that showcases the Kikuyu's poetic genius and cultural richness. It is also a valuable source of knowledge and wisdom that can enrich our understanding of ourselves and others. By downloading and reading Ndai na Gicandi: Kikuyu Enigmas PDF, you can learn more about this ancient art form and appreciate its beauty and significance.


How to appreciate and enjoy Gicandi today




Gicandi is not only a source of information and education, but also a source of enjoyment and pleasure. Listening to or reading Gicandi can stimulate your mind, enrich your vocabulary, enhance your creativity, and entertain your senses. Gicandi can also inspire you to create your own enigmas or poems, or to explore other forms of Kikuyu oral literature.


However, appreciating and enjoying Gicandi today is not easy. Gicandi is a complex and sophisticated genre that requires a lot of background knowledge, cultural sensitivity, and linguistic skill to understand and appreciate. Gicandi is also a rare and endangered genre that is not widely available or accessible to the public. There are very few opportunities to listen to or read Gicandi today.


One possible way to appreciate and enjoy Gicandi today is to join or form a Gicandi club or group with other people who are interested in this genre. You can meet regularly to listen to or read Gicandi together, discuss its meaning and significance, share your insights and opinions, and challenge each other with your own enigmas or poems. You can also invite a Gicandi singer or expert to join your club or group and learn from their experience and guidance.


Another possible way to appreciate and enjoy Gicandi today is to use online platforms and resources that can help you access and learn more about this genre. You can use websites, blogs, podcasts, videos, social media, or online courses that offer information, analysis, commentary, or instruction on Gicandi and Kikuyu culture. You can also use online tools or apps that can help you translate, transcribe, annotate, or generate Gicandi or Kikuyu enigmas or poems.


Conclusion




Gicandi is a unique and fascinating genre of Kikuyu oral literature that showcases the Kikuyu's poetic genius and cultural richness. It is also a valuable source of knowledge and wisdom that can enrich our understanding of ourselves and others. By appreciating and enjoying Gicandi today, you can help revive and preserve this ancient art form for posterity.


Conclusion




In this article, we have explored the fascinating world of Ndai na Gicandi: Kikuyu Enigmas. We have learned what Gicandi is and how it is performed, what are some examples of Kikuyu enigmas and what they reveal about the Kikuyu culture and worldview, how to download Ndai na Gicandi: Kikuyu Enigmas PDF, and how to appreciate and enjoy Gicandi today. We hope that this article has sparked your interest and curiosity in this unique and valuable genre of Kikuyu oral literature and that you will continue to learn more about it and share it with others. 4e3182286b


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