Welcome to KAYA TSOLOKERO
As a community centre, we have been operating in our current location since 2018. Previously we occupied a different (south-western) part of the forest.
Our aim is to save from oblivion the culture and traditions of the Mijikenda peoples, who have lived in the coastal part of Kenya for many centuries. To educate the younger generation about their origins and ancestral roots. To teach respect for tradition and history as well as nature, which plays a very big role in Mijikenda life. We are advocates of sustainable development. We know that we must move forward, with the spirit of progress, but we want this to be done in harmony with nature.
And we want to remind tourists that Kenya is not only about the Masai, who are not indigenous to this part of the country. The Masai are a minority, an immigrant population who came to the coast in search of work. Unfortunately, their colourful and well-selling appeal to tourists and their characteristic dance have in recent years displaced our indigenous, equally attractive, very valuable and worthwhile culture of the Mijikenda peoples.
If you want to find out about it and get to know us and our culture, we invite you to visit Kaya Tsolokero. You will get a lot of colourful, joyful experiences and valuable knowledge.
In addition, you will support the local community, which lives mainly from agriculture and small trade. The organisation of shows is an additional source of modest income for them.
What can you see with us? What can you experience?
Traditional Mijikenda houses
Within the centre there are two huts built according to the principles of traditional technology:
1) giriama hut – thatched with tall grasses, resembling a beehive or, if you prefer, a loaf of bread
2) nyika house – resembling modern houses in shape, but using two sections of roof (front to back) covered, as in the case of giriama hut, with thatch
Outside the cultural centres, such houses are rare. They are very difficult to see. Today, the coast is dominated by swahili houses with four roof sections (front – back and right – left) and roofing with palm leaves or corrugated sheet metal.
In our centre you will learn how the first huts were built, what materials were used and why some of them have now been abandoned. What were the advantages and disadvantages of each construction. Why the houses had no windows and why the entrance was so low.
You can see our cottages also inside. This will help you understand the reality of life of our ancestors. What did the beds look like? Where did they cook their meals? What kind of dishes were used and what were they made of? We will provide you with answers to these and many other questions.
Traditional folk costumes
We will show you our traditional costumes. We will tell you the names of the various elements of men’s and women’s clothing and what materials and colours are used in our community.
Traditional daily activities of the Mijikenda people
Do you wonder how maize flour was made, before the era of posho mill (mills)? How were pots made from our native clay? What and how were mats and hats made from?
In our kaya you will not only be able to see everything with your own eyes, but you will also be able to try your hand at, for example, the traditional method of obtaining flour from corn kernels or the art of raffia weaving.
Traditional dances and instruments
Have you ever heard of giriama dance? Our dancers will show you some of our traditional dance routines. Perhaps you would like to try and join them? They will be happy to give you some lessons. You will see for yourself whether their moves are easy or difficult.
Music is an indispensable part of dancing. We create it mainly with drums, but also with njuga and ndonga (rattles), filimbi (whistles), lungo (a bowl containing broken glass which produces sounds by shaking), or kayamba (an instrument which is played with the thumbs at the same time, by shaking it).
A characteristic instrument for the music of our Chonyi tribe is the xylophone, rarely found in Kenyan music.
Tour of the sacred kaya forest
Finally, we will invite you for a walk in our forest. You will learn why you need the sticks you will receive from us. You will get to know the different rules about entering and staying in the sacred forest. We will explain why you have to throw away a green branch at the marked place, why you have to take off your shoes (this rule does not apply to tourists), who our kigango represent and where the cemetery is.
Along the way, our guide will talk about the trees, herbs, etc. that we still use in medicine, cosmetics (or for manufacturing) and in many other areas of life.
With a slow step, we will come to the pilar that marks the centre of our sacred forest and from there we will make our way back.
Before that you will meet our elders (kambi).