nyamũ ya thĩ


Alternative formsEdit


Hinde (1904) records nyamayathi as an equivalent of English snake in “Jogowini dialect” of Kikuyu,[1] and McGregor (1905) nyamuyathi for viper[2].


nyamũ ya thĩ class 9 (plural nyamũ cia thĩ)

  1. lit. animal of the ground
    1. a certain species of snake; according to Hobley (1911:418) and Leakey (1977), it was the custom that the snake was treated with milk or fat poured out on the floor for drinking if the animal entered a hut and the snake was made to leave the hut lest the snake should be by any chance killed.[3][4] Hobley also reports that Kikuyu people regarded the snake as incarnation of a spirit of the departed (ngoma).[3]
    2. (in general) snake[5]


Boaedon fuliginosus

Leakey (1977) translates this term as Brown House Snake,[4] a common name for the species Boaedon capensis (syn. Lamprophis capensis). This species, however, is found today in Republic of South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana,[6] not in Kenya, where Kikuyu people live. Spawls (1978) reports that B. fuliginosus fuliginosus, syn. L. fuliginosus (Eng. brown house-snake, common house-snake) is found common and widespread in southern, eastern, central and western Kenya.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hinde, Hildegarde (1904). Vocabularies of the Kamba and Kikuyu languages of East Africa, pp. 54–55. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  2. ^ McGregor, A. Wallace (1905). A Grammar of the Kikuyu Language (British East Africa), p. 27. Rechard Clay & Sons.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hobley, C. W. (1911). "Further Researches into Kikuyu and Kamba Religious Beliefs and Customs," Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 41, pp. 406–457.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Leakey, L. S. B. (1977). The Southern Kikuyu before 1903, v. I, p. 461. →ISBN
  5. ^ “nyamũ” in Benson, T.G. (1964). Kikuyu-English dictionary, p. 341. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  6. ^ Boaedon capensis (The Reptile Database). (Retrieved 25 March 2018)
  7. ^ Spawls, S. (1978). "A checklist of the snakes of Kenya." Journal of the East Africa Natural History Society and National Museum 31(167): 1–18.