Kikuyu (kĭkōˈyō) [key], Bantu-speaking people, numbering about 6 million, forming the largest tribal group in Kenya. The Kikuyu live in the highlands NE of Nairobi. Before the British conquest they were the most influential people in the country. During the 1950s, under the leadership of Jomo Kenyatta, the Kikuyu fought the British colonialists in what was known as the Mau Mau Emergency. Although the Kikuyu traditionally lived in separate family homesteads, most were moved into villages during the rebellion. After the removal of the colonists, a large number chose to remain in the villages. The Kikuyu economy centers mainly around agriculture, with little or no hunting or fishing.
See H. E. Lambert, Kikuyu Social and Political Institutions (1956, repr. 1965); R. M. Gatheru, Child of Two Worlds (1964, repr. 1972); J. Davison, Voices from Mutira (1989).