Besides Swahili which – by virtue of being the lingua franca of East Africa – has been covered extensively, Kikuyu is one of the better documented languages in the region. Kikuyu is spoken primarily in central Kenya where it originated but has also become widespread in the Kenyan business sphere.
Books for learners of Kikuyu are not easy to come by (in Kenya) and are of wildly varying quality. Many of the books available were written decades ago and might not reflect the language as it is currently spoken. Even then, these books are often out of print or subject to the whims of the publishing industry.
At the Africana section of University of Nairobi, this type of books is guarded by an attendant who zealously notes down the student’s personal information and requested items before letting them in. The books cannot be borrowed but must instead be consulted within the library! Getting my hands on an old missionary manual for Kikuyu beginners took an almost comical turn.
For now, I am the proud owner of an English-Kikuyu dictionary (Oxford University Press) that even my Kikuyu tutor envies me. Another book that I was lucky enough to be allowed to borrow from a generous friend is ‘A short Kikuyu grammar’ by Dr. B. Mareka Gecaga (Mc Millan Kenya Publishers). With encouraging remarks here and there and clear explanations, it is the least boring grammar I’ve ever read! I have found it to be the most useful resource in learning Kikuyu, to the extent that the book has become my main reference.
Turning to the Internet for support, one idea is to get in touch with Twitter users (commonly known as tweeps) who tweet in Kikuyu and might be of help in boosting your learning, 140 characters at a time. Indigenous Tweets is a good place to start your search even though the highest rate of Kikuyu tweets currently stands at only 1.8%.
Wikipedia has a tiny Kikuyu interface, providing some reading material.
So far, I haven’t come across any active blogs in Kikuyu. For those interested in Kikuyu culture though, the blog Gikuyu Architecture has some captivating posts.
I am always happy to expand my horizons so if you have something to contribute (book reference, links, ideas etc), please share!