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An analysis of Kilumi ritual songs among the Akamba of Kitui, Kenya

Josephine Ndanu


Kilumi is a sacred ritual dance among the Akamba of Kenya. It consists of psychotherapeutic practices, however, the rituals continue to adapt. There is paucity of scholarly research done on kilumi. Consequently, this article intends to fill in a significant gap in literature as it relates to kilumi as one of the cultural therapeutic interventions used by the Akamba during difficult times. The author endeavors to classify kilumi songs in different categories. Also, the religious beliefs and experiences of the Akamba as reflected in the kilumi songs are explained. Hopefully, this article will be used by different academicians and researchers as a primer for their further research to understand the Religiocultural significance of African religious dances. Furthermore, they may make reference as they review their literature.

The scope of this article is limited to the Akamba of Kitui County. It documents analysis of some kilumi song texts and their translations. This article has been adapted from the author’s Master of Arts thesis in which data collection was done through observations, interviews, and examinations of relevant documents. Content analysis approach was adopted in analyzing the data. Further, the researcher participated in kilumi dances. The respondents were sampled from the five divisions of Kitui District by then. A flexible questionnaire was used to obtain the necessary information from the respondents; traditional and church elders. The interviews were tape recorded and later transcribed. These raw data augmented by information from literature review were analyzed and interpreted to yield desired result. The findings indicated that kilumi songs are functional in contemporary Akamba society. They are used for socio-cultural and therapeutic purposes. It is hoped that the documentation of this article will influence further scholarly research by those who may be interested in this field of knowledge.


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eISSN: 1998-1279