Showing posts sorted by relevance for query githeri. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query githeri. Sort by date Show all posts


Maize, Corn


Maize (Swahili : Mahindi, American : Corn, South African : Mealies)

***** Location: Kenya, East Africa, other areas
***** Season: Dry Season and others, see below
***** Category: Plant


Maize is the main staple crop of Kenya and its neighbours. It is the size of the maize and bean crops that determines the nutritional state of the nation. Moreover, maize constitutes the most important element of the country’s strategic grain reserve.

Maize and beans together form a nutritional whole which is greater than the sum of its parts, each bringing out the best in the other. Thus, it is no surprise that the greatest staple dishes of the country are composed of maize and beans cooked together or separately -- githeri (maize and beans cooked together, with the addition of some onions, tomatoes and potatoes), mûkimû or irio (maize and beans, mashed together with potatoes and bananas).


Maize is also roasted over charcoal fires in every town and city along the roadside and eaten by passers by as a filling snack.

Maize changing hands

The most “Kenyan” of all dishes, eaten by practically all nations of the country, is ugali, a soft cake of boiled maize flour, skillfully eaten with one’s fingers, together with sukuma wiki (cooked shredded green cabbage) or a meat stew. For the Luo people, a meal is not a meal if it does not include ugali!

Tucking into the ugali

As a kigo,
maize plays the same role in Kenya as rice does in Japan. Each season has its kigo related to maize -- its planting, weeding, watering, ripening, harvesting, decobbing, the cleaning (“selecting”) of the grains, various dishes eaten at different stages of the grain’s ripening, various uses for the stalks and leaves, various worries when the weather is too dry or too wet at different stages of the maize crop’s progress.

These kigo are repeated twice a year, as maize is planted at the start of each rainy season and harvested towards the middle of each dry season. Some maize dishes are eaten all year round, some are quite seasonal, as they are cooked with unripe (“green”) maize.

Maize has replaced some of the earlier staples, such as millet and sorghum, which still accompany many of the traditional festivals in the lives of the communities.

Kenya eats white maize, which differs from the smaller, harder, sweeter yellow maize grown and eaten in Europe and North America. It is said that the colonialists liked the white maize so much that they reserved it for themselves, making the Africans eat yellow maize. After Independence, Kenyans have never wanted to touch it again, and even during famine seasons, they treat foreign donations of yellow maize with the greatest of suspicion.

The “maize countries” of Africa generally lie along the Indian Ocean, from Kenya southwards, all the way to South Africa. North of Kenya, in Ethiopia, tef (Ethiopian millett) is the main staple, in Uganda, it is matoke (bananas), and further westward from there, it becomes cassava, with its favourite dish, fufu. All these carbohydrates, as well as sweet and “Irish” potatoes, rice and tapioca, are also grown and eaten in Kenya, but maize is the nation’s favourite by far.

Isabelle Prondzynski
Text and Photos


Maize kigo of Kenya

preparing maize fields
planting maize seeds
weeding maize fields
growing maize plants
ripening maize plants
harvesting maize
decobbing maize cobs
composting maize stalks
Green Maize
ripe maize


Some recipe pages :

Githeri :

Irio (mûkimû) :

Ugali :


And a wonderful article in German about githeri & co. :

Githeri - nicht nur für geschäftstüchtige Kioskbesitzer ein Gewinn

Die Volksgruppe der Gikuyu in Kenia gilt als besonders geschäftstüchtig, und man sagt, sie seien sparsame Leute, die ihr Geld nicht verprassen, sondern auf die hohe Kante legen. Vielleicht liegt es daran, dass in den Küchen der Gikuyu im kühlen und zentralen Hochland Kenias besonders preiswerte Gemüsegerichte entstehen. Mukimo zum Beispiel - ein Erbsen-Kartoffelpüree - oder das berühmte Githeri, ein Eintopf aus Mais und Bohnen, der so ein Schlager ist, dass er sogar in Dosen verpackt im Handel erhältlich ist.

To read more, click HERE !


Zea mays (Maize, Corn)
Mielie [Afrikaans]

by Hamish Robertson

Maize originates from Mexico and by the time Columbus arrived in the New World, there were already many domesticated varieties. Maize has become a particularly important crop in North America and Africa.

There are four wild species in the genus Zea, all of which are native to Mexico and northern Central America. One of these, Zea mexicana, commonly called teosinte, gave rise to maize Zea mays. Genetic evidence suggests that maize originated mainly from the Balsas race of teosinte which is found in the Balsas River basin in the Michoacan-Guerrero border region of western Mexico. Zea mays is thought to have speciated from Z. mexicana into a separate gene pool many thousands of years ago afterwhich it diversified into a number of different races.

Archaeological evidence from the Tehuacan caves in Puebla, Mexico, suggests that people were using Z. mays rather that Z. mexicana from about 5000 BC. The remains of Z. mays from these caves still bare quite a close resemblance to Z. mexicana in that the ears are small and slender and the grains are tiny and hard. However, the cobs were non-shattering and there were mostly eight row of kernels although there were a few four rowed types. They were probably used to produce popcorn.

By the time Columbus arrived in the Americas, people had developed numerous forms of maize and were often growing them in close proximity to one another. Although maize is wind-pollinated, people were able to keep races genetically distinct because (1) different races were grown in different fields with forest inbetween; (2) pollen of the same race as the plant tends to grow down the long styles faster than pollen of different races; and (3) farmer can spot a cob with pollination by different races of pollen because grains are often differently coloured - cobs like this would be rejected for planting.

Columbus brought maize grains back to the Spanish court, originating from the Greater Antilles in the Caribean, and these were grown in Spain in 1493. Basque companions of Pizarro brought maize grains back from Peru and introduced maize growing to the Pyrenees. Maize growing spread rapidly in Europe although only in southern Europe did it become a major crop. The popularity of maize in this region stemmed from the increased yield it provided over other spring crops such as wheat. It soon became the staple diet of poor people which led to malnutrition because maize is defficient in the amino acids lysine and niacin and white maize is defficient in carotene which is converted to Vitamin A. The disease pellagra became common, caused by a deficiency of niacin.

Maize was introduced to Africa in the 16th and 17th centuries and was readily accepted by African farmers, partly because it was grown and used in a similar way to their traditional crop of grain sorghum. Maize displaced sorghum as the staple grain in all but the drier regions. The Portuguese are thought to have introduced maize to Asian regions where it became widely grown but in most cases did not replace rice and wheat as the major crops.

In North America, the Red Indian tribes were growing maize as far back as 200 AD, but it was only in the 19th Century, with the aid of draft animals and ploughs, that European settlers rapidly developed the prairie grasslands of the Eastern US into what is now referred to as the Cornbelt. It was in this region that new, higher yielding maize varieties were developed, some of which were adopted in other parts of the world.

Copyright 2004, Iziko Museums of Cape Town

toumorokoshi, tohmorokoshi

Worldwide use


Maize, toomorokoshi 玉蜀黍、とうもろこし, トウモロコシ

kigo for late summer

toomorokoshi no hana 玉蜀黍の花 (とうもろこしのはな)
maize flowers
nanban no hana なんばんの花(なんばんのはな)
tookibi no hana 唐黍の花(とうきびのはな) "Kibi from Tang China" flowers


kigo for mid-autumn

....... other words used are

morokoshi, もろこし
"Southern Barbarian Millet", nanban kibi 南蛮黍 (難波黍)
..... nanban なんばん
Korean Millet, koorai kibi 高麗黍
Chinese (Tang) Millet, tookibi, 唐黍、玉黍

corn, koon コーン

Another species (some Japanese saijiki lists them as the same) :

"high millet" takakibi 高黍 
Chinese Millet, kooryan こうりゃん, 高粱 
corn-millet, morokoshi kibi もろこしきび
Chinese (Tang) Millet tookibi 唐きび

These crops have been introduced by the Portugese (nanban) to Japan around 1570. Some came via China and Korea, hence the naming.

Kooryan is the main source of an alcoholic drink of China.


WKD : Maize and other autumn vegetables

. PLANTS - - - the Complete SAIJIKI .  



. corn shucking, corn husking  

Things found on the way


strong and healthy maize
due to sewage nutrients --
very green colour

-- Grace Wanjau (Falcons)


tookibi ya
osui de sodatsu
aoao to

(Tr. Sakuo Nakamura)


Read more MAIZE haiku from the Kenya Haiku Clubs here !


Golden maze of maize
Silent sentries standing tall
Summer fortress formed

Harley Gal, USA


Shiki Haiku Competition, August 2009

cold afternoon --
an old toothless woman
roasting maize

~ stephen macharia

a boy chews an
abandoned green maize...
late noon

~ Catherine Njeri Maina

vociferous murmur
from the maize plantation...
August showers

~ Patrick Wafula

dry morning --
people sowing maize seeds
along the river bank

~ Eric Mwange

old Kikuyu farmer
busy on his withering maize --
sad face

~ mugaka

Kenya Saijiki Forum


brown moulds form
on a rotting maize cob-
stagnant water

Andrew Otinga


lunch time--
she drops a plateful
of githeri

Ceciliah Wambui

Discussion at the Kenya Forum


wilted maize—
the sandy riverbed turuns
into a path

Patrick Wafula
during a drought in February, 2011


shelling maize -
the blister on her hand

Doris Muthoni
March 2012

Related words

***** Green Maize


***** Millet (kibi きび、黍)
kigo for mid-autumn in Japan

ear of the millet, kibi no ho 黍の穂
cutting millet, kibi karu, 黍刈る
thrashing millet, kibi hiku 黍引く
millet-field, kibibata 黍畑
millet dumplings, kibi dango 黍団子

. Millet (awa, hie, kibi)  




Maize Haiku 0609

nnnnnnnnnnnn TOP nnnnnnnnnnnnn

Maize Haiku from Kenya Haiku Clubs
September 2006

Maize cultivation

hoes on their hands as
farmers cultivate maize crops
whistling loudly

~ Geoffrey (Falcon)

healthy green maize
using sewage manure
they are nutritious

~ Keago (Falcon)

moo moo moo
leaves of green maize
cows bleating for them

~ Grace (Falcon)

swaying her hands
a woman chases away chicken
from her maize

~ Raymond Otieno (Bamboocha)

blooming tassels
on strong maize plants
expectant farmers

~ Catherine Njeri (Bamboocha)

month of June
showers and frost--
healthy maize plants

~ Catherine Njeri (Bamboocha)

in our farm--
weaverbirds sing
as they peck maize

~ Patrick Wafula (teacher)

Maize Harvest

ready in the farm
no workers to harvest
birds celebrate

~Nalo (Falcon)

green maize
like a grandfather's beard--
great harvest

~ Kevin Safari (teacher)

in the homestead--
a happy-looking father
receives maize from farm

~ Patrick Wafula (teacher)

Green Maize

old African mother
looks very confused as
she sells maize

~ Helen (Falcon)

green long sheath stem
big grains from its maize cob
healthy and energetic

~ Baraza (Falcon)

so lovely and strong
they grow along the sewage
making the farm nice

~ Seline (Falcon)

tupft tupft tupft
mahindi choma ten bob
shouts the man selling

~ Rebecca (Falcon)

a woman carrying maize
buying beans in the market
githeri at home

~ Raymond Otieno (Bamboocha)

a pit full of maize cobs
business must be doing well
happy men

~ Raymond Otieno (Bamboocha)

a man eating maize
along a busy street
gets knocked over

~ Catherine Njeri (Bamboocha)

I move near a stall
full of boiled green maize
sweet scent

~ Catherine Njeri (Bamboocha)

happy chorus girl
with a chopstick
eating Indian corn

~ Susan Wangui (Bamboocha)

boiled maize on plate
saliva drops off the lips --
can I taste?

~ Samson Onyango (Bamboocha)

expectant Luhyas
stand around the maize stand--
munching jaws

~ Patrick Wafula (teacher)

a woman
shelling green maize--
githeri for lunch

~ Annastacia Muthoni (Bamboocha)

a long the streets
women sell githeri--
green maize

~ Kevin Safari (teacher)

plenty of food
a man riding a bicycle
with three bags of maize

~ Jedidah Kerubo

Related words

***** Maize, Corn in Kenya
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Seasonal Words and Topics - List

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.................... List of Seasonal Words
from Kenya and other tropical areas


In Kenya, we have the following haiku seasons:

.. .. .. hot dry season
.. .. .. long rains
.. .. .. cool dry season
.. .. .. short rains

Some of the rainy season kigo appear twice in the course of the year.


.. .. .. .. .. Seasonal Items

hot and dry season
(roughly November to March, with January being the hottest month)

-- Buying textbooks
-- Buying school uniforms
-- Cassia blossom Golden Shower Tree (Cassia fistula). Drumstick Tree (Moringa oleifera).
-- Caterpillar, Hairy Caterpillar
-- Census
-- Christmas worldwide

-- Dry lips
-- Dust
-- Exam resultsKCPE and KCSE Exam Registration and Results
-- February rainfall
-- First things, New Year
-- Form One entrants and monolisation
-- Frangipani, Plumeria
-- Goat Meat, also Goats in general
ice cream
-- Jamhuri Day (12 December)
-- January
- - - - Njaanuary ( njaa and (Jan)nuary
-- Maasai Cattle (Masai Cattle)
-- Mabati shimmering roofs
-- Maize, Green Maize (for corn/maize see below)
-- Mango (ripe fruit)
-- National Drama Festival
-- New Year
--- New Year's resolution 2012
open shoes
-- Orchid Show, Nairobi
-- Papyrus and other grasses couch grass, napier grass, African star grass
-- Paying school fees
-- peaches, ripe peaches
-- Plums, ripe plums, plum fruit
-- Scorching sun
-- Smell of urine
-- Start of new school year Kenya
... ... see also Start of Schoolyear, worldwide
-- sweating
Valentine’s Day, St Valentine’s Day, Valentine
-- vest
-- Water shortage , drought
-- Weeds
-- World AIDS Day


long rains (roughly March to May)

-- Amaranth, Amaranthus leaf vegetable
-- Bombax blossom
-- First rainfall, imminent rain
-- bullfrogs Frog (kawazu, kaeru) worldwide
-- Easter
-- flooding
-- flying termites kumbi kumbi
-- Grass, fresh grass, green grass, young grass
-- Guava fruit
-- Gumboots, gum boots
-- heavy raindrops
-- Ibis (Hadada)
-- Labour Day
-- Long Rains Haiku by Bahati Club
-- Long Rains
-- Mabati roofs rusting and harvesting rainwater
Mater Hospital Heart Run
-- Mosquitoes in Kenya

-- Mud (Swahili : matope)
including: Brickmaking, Dry mud, Bukusu Initiation (Circumcision)  
-- Mudslide, landslide

-- Palm Sunday
-- Plantation activities
-- Pneumonia
-- Power failure, blackout     
-- Puddle, puddles
-- rain shower
-- Rhinoceros beetle , a scarab beetle
-- Sand harvesting, sand mining
-- Shoe wiper
-- Stepping stones, step-stone bridge  
-- Thorn tree flowers
-- UEFA league
-- Umbrella
-- Urine smell, smell of urine


cold, cool and dry season
(roughly from June to September, with July being the coldest month)

-- August moon
-- Avocado pear (Kikuyu : Mûkorobîa)
-- Beanie cap Kenya
-- Budget Day
-- Bukusu Initiation / Circumcision
-- Cold Dew (kanro) worldwide
-- Cold dry season, cool dry season   
-- Cold water

Datura suaveolens, Moonflower, Angel's Trumpet, trumpet plant
-- Day of the African Child (16 June)  
-- Dust
-- Euro Games, UEFA European Football Championship
-- Glove, gloves
-- Frangipani, Plumeria       
-- freezing
-- Hawkers for warm things glove, hot coffee, uji maize porridge, scarf, sweater ...
Irish potatoes (viazi)
-- Jiko (brazier)
-- July
-- Loquat, loquats - fruit
-- Maasai Cattle (Masai Cattle)
-- Mabati roors collect dew
-- Madaraka Day (1 June)
-- Maize, Green Maize
-- Martyrs’ Day Uganda
-- Morning glory, fam. Ipomoea (

-- Nairobi Bomb Day (7 August)
-- Nairobi International Trade Fair (end of September)
-- no meetings (August)
-- Oranges (Swahili : Mchungwa)
Referendum August 2010
-- Sunflower
-- Sesbania Tree (Sesbania sesban (L.) Merr.)
-- Shivering, to shiver
-- start of university year
-- Weeds


short rains (roughly October and November)

-- Aramanthus, vegetable
-- bullfrogs > Frog (kawazu, kaeru) worldwide
-- First rainfall, imminent rain
-- Ocotber rain
-- Flamboyant Tree (Swahili : Mjohoro)
-- Flooding in 2006
-- flying termites kumbi kumbi
-- Graduation Ceremony in Kenya
... ... see also Graduation (sotsugyoo) worldwide
-- sGrevillea tree Grevillea Robusta . Mgrivea (Swahili), Mûkima (Kikuyu)
-- Gumboots, gum boots
-- Jacaranda blossom
-- heavy raindrops
-- Kenyatta Day
-- Messiah for the Hospice

-- Moi Day (10 October) renamed :
. . Mashujaa Day since 2010
-- Mosquitoes in Kenya
-- Mud (Swahili : matope)
-- Mudslide, landslide

-- Nairobi Marathon
-- -- Plantation activities
-- Power failure, blackout
-- Puddle, puddles
-- Shoe wiper

-- School exams KCSE / KCPE
------ Short Rains and more kigo about this season
-- Stepping stones, step-stone bridge
-- Thorn tree - fresh leaves
-- Tipu tree (Tipuana tipu)
-- Umbrella

.. .. .. Glossary of Kenyan Terms and more Haiku Topics


............. Topics for which the season changes

-- Diwali (Devali, Divali)
-- Ramadan in Kenya
-- Ramadan ends (Idd ul Fitr)


............. Non-seasonal Topics

Ageing ... Getting old in Kenya. Grandfather, Grandmother
Akala ... Sandals
Aloe vera
Arfat, scarf of a muslim woman
Arusha Tanzania
. . . Brick making in Arusha
. . . Namanga-Arusha Highway Road

Banana ring, to carry things
Bat, bats . . . and the Mukuyu tree
Bisquits and cookies
Boda boda, motorbike taxi, motorcycle taxi
Boma Homesteads
Buibui, to cover the head and face of a Muslim woman face veil
Bukusu Culture, Babukusu People
Bull fighting, bullfight
Bunche Road, Nairobi

Calabash, calabashes, gourd
Camel, Dromedary, Kamel, Dromedar
Casuarina Tree
Central Park, Children's Traffic Park
Chapati, flatbread Chokoraa, chokora - "street boy" or "parking boy"
Coconut, coconuts, coconut milk
Coffee plant blossoms, coffee blossoms
Crickets, cricket

Dandora, Municipal Garbage Site Nairobi
Day Moon
Demolitions in Patanisho, Nairobi
Duck, ducks

Elections, general election 2013
Eucalyptus tree Fam. Myrtaceae

Fences and hedges
Firefinch fam. Lagonosticta
First things
Flame tree (Erythrina fam.)
Flies, Fly, Housefly, Fruitfly
Fountain (in a park)

Garbage, sewers, sewerage
Gilgil, town in the Rift Valley
Grevillea tree

Hell's Gate National Park

Irio (mûkimû)
Isukuti Dance

Jackfruit, fenesi
Jeevanjee Gardens and Alibhai Mulla Jeevanjee
Jua kali artisans

Kabaka of Uganda
Kajiado mission
Kale, kales, a cabbage (sukumawiki)
Kamba People A funeral in Ukambani
Kamukunji constituency, Nairobi
Kanga, kangas, wrapping cloth
Karura forest
Kasarani Constituency

Kenya Railway Museum Kukai August 2010
Kenyatta National Hospital,Nairobi
Khamsin wind Egypt, North Africa
Khat, miraa (Catha edulis)
Kiambu County
Kibanda hut, kiosk, stall
Kibera Slums
Kigali, Rwanda
Kikoi. kikoy - garment, shawl
Kiondo handbag (chondo, pl. vyondo)
Kisii in Nyanza Narok plains, Ogembo Street
Kisongo Market Tanzania
Kitale Town in Western Kenya
kitenge - garment

Koinange mall and street, Nairobi
Komarocks play ground and Embakasi
Korogocho slum
kuku choma - grilled chicken

Lang'ata - Nairobi
Limuru town in Kiambu West Distarict
Longido Hills
Lugari Forest

Machakos town, Masaku
Magadi, Lake Magadi in the Rift Valley
Maize (Swahili : Mahindi, American : Corn, South African : Mealies)
managu vegetable
Masai, Maasai, Massai ... indigenous African ethnic group of semi-nomadic people located in Kenya
Mandazi, a kind of doughnuts ndazi (singular)
Marabou Stork, Leptoptilos crumeniferus
Marikiti Farmers' Market Nairobi
Market, markets
Matatu minibus
Mathare Youth Sports Association, MYSA Mathare Valley slums
Matuu town
Mavoko county
Mitumba (singular : mtumba) second-hand goods
Mkokoteni - hand cart, pushcart pl. mikokoteni
Monkey, monkeys
Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro
Mtumba (singular) / mitumba (plural) used items
Mugumo tree
mutura - Kenyans Saussage
Murang'a town
murram mud roads
Mzungu, muzungu ... person of European descent... "white person"

Nairobi City
Haile Selassie Avenue, Soweto Market, Wakulima Market, Thika road, Tom Mboya street, Marikiti market, Kawangare slums, Kibera slum . . .

Ngaramtoni at the flank of Mount Meru
Newspaper vendor, newspaper boy
Nightjar (Fam. Caprimulgus)
Night life
Njiru Market
Njiiru Plains
Nyama choma - roast meat

Passion fruit, Passiflora edulis
Pawpaw tree(Asimina) paw paw, paw-paw, papaw
Peace (Swahili : Amani)
Pig, pigs
Pine tree, Pinus Patula
Pineapple, Ananas comosus
Pokot people West Pokot and Baringo Districts of Kenya
Pomelo (Citrus maxima or Citrus grandis) Chinese grapefruit
Posho mill, poshomill -- to grind wheat, maize and other grains

Rift Valley
Royal Palm Tree Roystonea regia

Sewer, sewage in Soweto
shuka - blanket
shamba - food garden
Sinai slum fire, September 2011
Sisal (Agave sisalana)
..... Sisal and makongeni paths
Slasher to cut grass
Smoke and smog
Snake, Snakes
Sorghum (mtama) and milled porridge (uji)
Sowbug, a brown snail
Sufuria .. cooking pot or saucepan

Tea (Swahili : chai)
-- thermos container
Tilapia fish
Toilet, outhouse
Tomato, tomatoes
Trans-Mara region

Ugali and Uji, maize porridge
Ukwala, Muthurwa, Luthuli Avenue
Umbrella tree / Schefflera actinophylla
Upland rice

Voi, Sagala hill

Weaver birds (Ploceidae family)
Webuye Town
Westgate Attack, Mall Attack, September 2013

Wimbi, bulo ... Millet
Wood, firewood
World Environment Day (5 June)



Haibun . Haiku in Combination

Construction and Development

. Kiswahili Haiku


...................................... Other Tropical SAIJIKI

WKD: Trinidad and Tobago Saijiki


.. .. .. .. .. National Holidays in Kenya

l Jan -- New Year's Day -- International New Year's Day Holiday
> -- WKD ... : New Year (shin-nen)

Varies -- Good Friday -- Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ
> -- WKD ... : Easter

Varies -- Easter Monday -- Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ
> -- WKD ... : Easter

1 May -- Labour Day -- International Day of the Worker
> -- see also : Labour Day, USA

. . . . .

Mashujaa Day

10 Oct -- Moi Day -- Established on the 10th day of the 10th month 10 years after the inauguration of President Daniel arap Moi as the second President of Kenya.
October 2010:
The new constitution scrapped Moi Day and replaced Kenyatta day with Hero's (Mashujaa) Day in efforts to celebrate the men and women who fought for Kenya's freedom .

20 Oct -- Kenyatta Day -- This is to commemorate the arrest of Jomo Kenyatta and the declaration of the State of Emergency on 20 October 1952.
October 2010:
The new constitution scrapped Moi Day and replaced Kenyatta day with Hero's (Mashujaa) Day in efforts to celebrate the men and women who fought for Kenya's freedom .
Jomo Kenyatta

. . . . .

12 Dec -- Uhuru or Jamhuri Day -- This is to commemorate the day on which Kenya achieved its Independence, on 12 December 1963.
> -- Jamhuri Day

25 Dec -- Christmas Day -- Christian holiday celebrating the Birth of Jesus Christ.
> -- Bahati Haiku Club : Christmas
> -- WKD ... : Christmas

26 Dec -- Boxing Day -- celebrating St Stephen's Day and the second
day of the Christmas season.
> -- WKD ... St Stephen's Day

Varies -- Idd ul Fitr
The Muslim festival of Idd-ul-Fitr is also a public holiday and takes place on the sighting of the new moon at the end of Ramadhan. The exact date varies according to the position of the New Moon.


.. .. .. .. .. .. Annual events in Kenya

Apart from big celebrations that are held on Madaraka, Kenyatta and Independence Days, Nairobi is also the venue for a number of large international and national sports matches. Nairobi further enhances its cosmopolitan image by hosting a number of annual shows and

The Kenya Schools Music Festival is held in Nairobi in May/June and

The Agricultural Society of Kenya (A.S.K.) Show takes place at Jamhuri Park at the end of September or beginning of October. See Nairobi International Trade Fair

The long established and international Safari Rally begins and ends in Nairobi - drawing ever larger crowds.


Introduction to the

Haiku Clubs of Nairobi


More LINKs in the Kenya Saijiki

Getting to Know Kenya

Poetry and Literature of Kenya

Music of Kenya, by Douglas Paterson

Missionaries in Kenya

Wildlife in Kenya

Plants and Animals of Kenya, LIST by Allen & Nancy Chartier

Kakamega Forest Birds

Nature Kenya Organization


Editor: Isabelle Prondzynski


Kutoka Wikipedia, kamusi elezo huru: HAIKU

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Glossary of Kenyan Terms and Topics

bob -- shillings, money

githeri -- a staple food made from maize and beans

jiko -- a brazier used for cooking or heating and fuelled with charcoal, firewood or kerosene

lesso -- same as kanga
-- a rectangular cotton cloth with colourful prints and Swahili proverbs, worn as a skirt, as a turban,

Kayole -- an Eastern suburb of Nairobi

kiondo -- a sisal basket woven by women -- plural : vyondo

mabati -- corrugated iron sheets for building houses or roofing them

mandazi, mandazis -- a kind of doughnut

matatu -- a public transport minibus

mkokoteni, a hand cart pl. mikokoteni

muthokoi -- the delicious Kamba staple food

mzungu -- a white person

Nairobi -- the capital of Kenya

ndizi -- banana

ndubia -- tea with milk but no sugar

posho mill, poshomill -- for wheat and maize

shamba -- vegetable garden

Soweto -- a slum area within Kayole

Sufuria -- cooking pot or sauce

sukuma wiki, sukumawiki -- "stretching out the week"
leafy cabbage-like vegetable

tilapia -- a fish from lake Victoria
turungi -- "tru tea" : tea with neither milk nor sugar

ugali -- a staple food, solid porridge made from maize flour

uji -- a liquid porridge made from maize or millet flour


***** KIGO : Season Words of Kenya





Irish Potatoes


Irish Potatoes (Swahili : viazi)

***** Location: Kenya
***** Season: Cold dry season
***** Category: Plant


Irish potatoes are abundantly available in the cold dry season.
However, in Nairobi, we still have them in smaller quantities during the other seasons as well, since all fresh farm produce is brought to the huge Marikiti Market for sale all year round. In some rural areas, like Rift Valley or Western, Irish potatoes are only available during the cold dry season, i.e. May to August.

Patrick Wafula


The potato was first introduced into Kenya by Irish missionaries, for whom this was the staple food -- hence the common name "Irish potato".
They grow well in the highlands of Kenya and have become part of the staple diet of the highlands people, such as Kikuyus and their neighbours. Potatoes are not normally eaten on their own, but mixed into vegetable dishes (together with cabbage and carrots) as well as into githeri. As climate change takes hold of Kenya and drought periods lengthen, Kenya's favourite staple, maize, is partially being replaced with potatoes, which seem to be more drought resistant.

Kenya also has many native starchy root crops, among them the sweet potato (Kikuyu : ngacî).
Isabelle Prondzynski

Worldwide use


. Potato (jagaimo)  

Things found on the way


Irish potatoes
peeping from an overstuffed sack --
a sweating cart man

Patrick Wafula


another dawn --
his back curves under
a potato sack

Catherine Njeri Maina


Great Famine potato makes a comeback after 170 years
"The Irish Lumper" returns, grown for the first time in generations
An Antrim potato farmer has re-cultivated a variety of potato at the root of the Great Famine, making it available in Ireland for the first time in almost 170 years.

The nutritious "Irish Lumper" grew immensely popular among impoverished Irish farmers in the early 19th century because if flourished in poor soil. However, the dependence on a single variety of spud proved disastrous. When the blight took hold in the 1840s, the Lumper was wiped out.

The potato variety had all but disappeared until Michael McKillop of Glens of Antrim Potatoes decided to grow the spud five years ago.
source :

must we open
old sores

- Shared by John Byrne -
Haiku Culture Magazine, 2013

Related words

***** Sweet potatoes (satsumaimo, Satsuma imo サツマイモ ) Japan



Posho mill and wimbi millet


Posho mill

***** Location: Kenya
***** Season: Topic
***** Category: Humanity


This is a mill that grinds your wheat or maize into flour.

CLICK for more photos

Most Kenyans grow their own maize, the main staple food in Kenya, and if it is not eaten green (i.e. fresh) or cooked wholegrain in githeri, they take it to the posho mill to be ground, so that the meal can be eaten as ugali.

Isabelle Prondzynski


Posho Mills in Kenya

Posho 01 till 08

In Kenya, both in the rural and urban areas, posho mills play an important role in economic life of Kenyans; they pulverize maize grain, which is the staple food of the country, into flour (unga). The flour is then used to prepare ugali or uji. Both are types of maize porridge -- ugali is tougher and firm, while uji has a soupy consistence.

Posho 02

Ugali is simple to prepare.
You just heat water to boiling point, then, using a cooking stick, add handful after handful of maize flour, stirring the mixture gently until it becomes firm. You then continue to heat it for some time more to make it firmer. It is best to keep turning the mixture in the sufuria (saucepan) to make sure it is well cooked before transferring it to a plate. It is then served hot with the various vegetables or stew according to one’s own taste.

Posho 03
David, a worker at the mill

Posho mills also grind other grain such as wheat and millet into flour. There are two types of posho mills: the electric posho mill and the diesel posho mill. The diesel posho mill is used in the remote and rural areas where there is no electricity. It has been in existence for a long time; in fact, it has been there since those days of the grinding mill. Before the diesel posho mill came into use, there was the grinding mill, which was operated manually by hand. It was very tedious as one had to turn the heavy wheel for some time.

Due to its laboriousness, it could produce only a little flour at a time, and the flour was coarse. Before the grinding mill came into existence, there was the grinding stone. This is the most traditional method of producing flour, still used by some of the most traditional communities in Kenya.

The grinding stone is simply a huge flat stone smoothened on the surface and the user uses a smaller stone to crush the grain between the two. The traditionalists argue that flour produced by the diesel and electric posho mills is contaminated with grease and oil hence not very not safe for human consumption. However, it is also argued that flour produced by the grinding mill contains minute stones, which come off the grinding stone surfaces due to friction. These minute stones are a health hazard as they may accumulate in the appendix and end up causing appendicitis.

Posho 05

The electric posho mill on the other hand is found in urban centres with electricity supplies. They are made and operate in the same way as the diesel posho mills, only that they use electric power. The flour produced by these posho mills is supposed to be safer, but it is still argued that the oil and grease used to lubricate the machine’s mobile joints sometimes finds its way into the flour. It is also debatable that the metal parts which wear out may end up in the flour, as there is no place provided where the micro metal pieces can collect.

All in all, posho mills are crucial to the lives of most Kenyans. In the evenings mostly, you will see a long queue of tins or polythene bags full of maize grain waiting to be ground. It is mostly women and children who take the grain to the posho mills for grinding, but sometimes, also men, especially the single ones working in towns, are seen in the queues.

When maize grain is cheap after bountiful rains, the majority of Kenyans save money by buying maize grain and taking it to the posho mill for grinding into flour, instead of going for the fine and sifted flour (sold mostly in 1 kg or 2 kg packs) in the shops and supermarkets. The full maize grain is measured in a standard tin of 2 kg. This tin, which is a reused cooking oil container, is referred to as korokoro. To grind a 2 kg tin of maize one is charged KShs. 10/-, while the maize in the same tin currently costs KShs. 50/-. The largest quantity of maize is the 90kg bag.



wimbi means millet.
This posho mill grinds not only maize, but millet or wimbi as well. Wimbi is also called bulo, obulo or obule (Luhya).

Wimbi is one of the oldest grains to be grown by Kenyans, especially in Western and Nyanza. Wimbi has many domestic uses. One of them is the making of brown ugali or ugali ya wimbi as they call it. This type of ugali, is very special to the people of Western Kenya. It is eaten at all traditional ceremonies and rituals, the most remarkable one is being used during traditional weddings as a wedding cake.

The other use of wimbi is in the making of the traditional brew called busaa (Swahili) amalwa or kamalwa (Luhya). The millet used in this process goes through a special process which includes being kept under wet condition away from sunshine for a week, during which it produces white shoots. It is then spread out in the sun to dry up until it is brown. It is at this stage that is taken into the posho mill to be ground into flour, but this flour is not ordinary flour; it is called limela or limira, meaning yeast, and it is used to ferment the traditional brew called kamalwa. Busaa or kamalwa is a product of maize fermented maize flour fried and mixed with water and limela and allowed to ferment for three days.

Millet flour is also used in the making of brown porridge, traditionally known as buyu, obusera or busera (Luhya). The Luo call it nyuka. This is the most popular porridge in both rural and urban Kenya; you find it being sold even in big hotels, food kiosks, roadsides and even by hawkers.

To make the brown ugali even more delicious, the millet grain is usually mixed with pieces of cassava, which they call, kumwoko or omwoko (Huhoko: Swahili) and then taken into the posho mill for grinding. It makes a delicious meal when the brown ugali is eaten with meat and meat stew, chicken and chicken stew or fish and fish stew.

Text and Photos : Patrick Wafula


Millet and sorghum are native crops in Kenya and prized for their drought resistant qualities.

In recent years, they have both been largely replaced by maize in Kenyan agriculture and in the Kenyan diet. One reason for this is that millet takes a whole year to mature, while maize yields two crops in the course of a year. Millet is also very attractive to birds and has to be protected from them while ripening, which makes it a more expensive crop to produce.

They have a long history in Kenya and are still prized as oodstuffs on the important occasions in people's lives.

Millet porridge (uji) is much appreciated and health giving and is the regular breakfast in parts of the country. It is also easily transportable in thermos flasks and can therefore provide good sustenance to farmers as they go about their daily work.

A particular type of millet (tef) grows only in Ethiopia and is essential for making injera, the Ethiopian staple carbohydrate.
Outside Ethiopia, the tef can be replaced with rice flour, which makes a decent enough injera for those who cannot obtain the real thing.

Isabelle Prondzynski

The swahili name for sorghum is mtama.

Worldwide use

. Millet (hie, awa, kibi)  Japan

Things found on the way


hot evening--
chicks pecking maize grains
in the posho mill

Alex Mwanambisi


power failure -
a posho-miller leans
on the engine

James Bundi


posho mill --
a dove pecks crunched maize
under the sieve

Isaac Ndirangu
April 2011

Related words

***** Sufuria .. cooking pot or saucepan

***** Maize, Corn and githeri

***** Green Maize

. . . ugali



Maize, Green Maize


Green Maize

***** Location: Kenya and neighbouring countries
***** Season: Cool dry season, hot dry season
***** Category: Plant


Maize harvested before it is quite ripe, while it is still fairly soft, is called Green Maize. This food is greatly enjoyed, as it is the first output of the staple grain during the season, and it can sometimes be the first harvested food after a period of hunger, even famine.

The maize cobs are sold in street markets, still covered by their inner leaves. They may also be sold freshly boiled or grilled, for immediate consumption on the spot.

Green maize is particularly appreciated for making soft mûkimû or gîtheri suitable for elderly people who may have lost some of their teeth. However, it is not suited for storage -- which means that the maize eaten for most of the year consists of the ripe grains, decobbed, sundried and stored in a safe place until needed.

The main page for maize, covering further maize related kigo in Kenya, may be found here :
Maize / Corn

Isabelle Prondzynski.


Here is a delicious plate of gîtheri -- enjoy!


Worldwide use

The Kenyan Green Maize is equivalent to the yellow maize eaten as sweetcorn or corn on the cob in many other countries. The main difference is the maize variety -- Kenya maize being white rather than yellow, and therefore less sweet and more savoury in flavour.

Things found on the way


fresh grain of maize
on the dry Kayole street --
sharp eyes of the hen

~ Isabelle Prondzynski


From Bahati Haiku Poetry Club (The Bamboochas) :

a swarm of houseflies
on cobs and leftovers--
green maize

~ David Wandera

蝿の群れ 青唐黍の 屑の上
hae no mure ao tookibi no kuzu no ue
Translation by Nakamura Sakuo

boiled maize --
jaws move up and down
chewing hard

~ Depporah Mocheche

a man
with his customer by his side
roasting maize

~ Walter Ochola

Green maize roaster, January 2005
Photo : Isabelle Prondzynski

at Soweto Market--
men unloading maize
from a blue lorry

~ Raymond Otieno


at the fireside --
happy kids telling stories
as they roast maize

~ Kevin Safari


early morning
kids chase weaverbirds
from their green maize

~ Patrick Wafula


From Falcons Haiku Poetry Club (Lorna Waddington) :

maize in the garden
standing still on the farm
Kadima enjoys the taste

~ Susan

elephants enjoying
the villagers chasing them
beating drums

~ Simon


warm steam from
the boiled maize sufuria--
evening showers

Hussein Haji

Sufuria cooking pot

Related words

***** Maize / Corn as a kigo



Brazier (jiko)

[ . BACK to TOP . ]


Jiko (brazier) and makaa (charcoal)

***** Location: Kenya
***** Season: Cool dry season
***** Category: Humanity


The Kenyan jiko (brazier) is used all year round, in most parts of Kenya, for cooking meals of all types and sizes. It is heated with charcoal, which itself is also available all year round.

In the cool dry season, however, the jiko obtains an additional quality as a kigo -- it warms the cold house, even while it is being used for cooking. And when it cools off again after the meal has been prepared, the family gather round and enjoy the heat from it for another while.

The more luxurious Kenyan hotels and restaurants provide jikos for their guests in the evening on the outdoor terraces, so as to provide some heat against the chill at this time of year. The jiko as a heater has the quality of a fireplace, in that the heat is concentrated, and one can approach to warm one’s hands or feet -- but it also needs careful supervision, in case a child strays too near and gets burnt.

Charcoal embers glowing in a jiko
Photo © Isabelle Prondzynski

Kenyan charcoal is prepared in particular regions and brought to towns and cities, where it is sold in containers of various sizes :

Charcoal seller in Kibera, Nairobi
© PHOTO : Ina’s Pics

Charcoal is particularly popular in rural regions and urban slums, where there is no electricity and hence, there are no electric cookers. It is also popular for jikos in general, as these can be moved anywhere and are often used, even by the wealthiest people, when there are festive meals to prepare, as these may require many stoves for the various dishes.

Text © Isabelle Prondzynski


Cooking a special meal on a large jiko
Photo © Isabelle Prondzynski

Very informative video here :
France24-EN report, October 2007

More links here :

Worldwide use


I have come across very similar braziers in very similar climates in the evenings of India too, where hotel guests sitting on a terrace were provided with this kind of mobile heat.

Haiku :

This is how I remember ironing shirts in India, with an iron piece heated by charcoal fire ...

black-out again !
the ironing wallah grabs
for the charcoals

~ Gabi Greve



. tadon 炭団 (たどん/ tandon たんどん ) charcoal briquette .
sumiuri, sumi-uri 炭売(すみうり)charcoal vendor, charcoal seller
and many more charcoal KIGO

Things found on the way

Charcoal is used by the maize roasters along the roadsides of Kenyan towns and cities, such as this one :

Photo © Isabelle Prondzynski

Charcoal irons are common in Kenya too, wherever there is no electricity.


charcoal business --
the day’s supplies arrive
by bike

~ Isabelle Prondzynski


my grandmother
spreading her hands over a jiko --
drizzly morning

my sister warming
a cold chick around a jiko --
drizzly evening

my father
roasting yams on a jiko --
dewy morning

~Esther Muthoni

neighbours waiting
for the wind to blow the jiko --
smokey room

traffic jam
caused by the charcoal lorry --
tired driver

family members
sitting around the jiko --
showery evening

charcoal seller
with a blackened face --
customers queue

~Peter Nguribu

clouds gathering,
the artisan struggles to finish the jiko --
imminent drizzle

~Patricia Nduta

Saturday evening
grandmother cooking githeri on a jiko --
red hot charcoal

Monday morning,
drying my uniforms on a jiko --
red hot charcoal

warming myself
around the jiko-
cold morning

~Onesmus Kyalo

my uncle
sits beside the hot jiko --
roasting meat

~Anne Wairimu

my mother
warming herself by the jiko --
drizzling morning

~Joseph Kilunda

cold night
crickets crying in fear --
charcoal crackling down

~Beryl Achieng

kids play around
a quickly burning jiko --
chilly morning

~ Judy

adding charcoal
to prepare dinner --
cold evening

~ Caroline Wanjiku

Cooking chapatis on a jiko
Photo © Isabelle Prondzynski

heating with jiko --
a busy man selling
roasted maize

jua kali artisan
modelling an iron sheet --
a young jiko

~ Martin Kamau

a charcoal iron
as clothes silently relax --
cold evening

~ James Bundi

grandmother shivering --
our lit up jiko
warms the room

~ Beryl Achieng'

rainy afternoon
mother in the kitchen
the jiko promises heat

~ Anne Wairimu

long queues
people demanding charcoal --
early risers

~ Solomon Kilelu

May evening --
my younger brother
beside the jiko

~ Jedida Nduku

an artisan
carefully mending a jiko --
cold afternoon

~ Peter Nguribu

beside a rusty jiko --
chilly morning

~John Mwangi

my uncle
sneezing and wiping eyes --
the jiko smoke

~ Catherine Njeri Maina


in the grandfather’s hut
kettle on top of the jiko --
chilly morning

around charcoal burner
grandfather meets grandchildren --
story time

~ Maurice Opondo

much cold --
jiko lit with charcoal
warms people up

~ aineah otieno

chattering teeth
a chill breeze blows --
jiko the only saviour

~ shamim mbone

chilly morning
red hot charcoal in a jiko
breakfast session

cold evening --
family around the jiko
talking together

~ ayoma david

women in a queue
waiting to be served --
demand for charcoal

dizzy kids
around the jiko --
drops of rain on the dishes

~ hussein haji

around the jiko
grandmum gives stories --
cure for the cold

~ Ann Wanjiru

red hot charcoal
boiling coffee on it --
chilly morning

~ Duncan Omoto


chilly June --
my little cat seats near
the jiko door

~ Kelvin Mukoselo

wind blows --
children point their
fingers around a jiko

children moving
around a jiko ---
enjoy legend stories

~ siboko yamame

late evening --
mummy lights a jiko
to cook ugali

~ Gladys Kathini

starlit night --
staring at the crescent moon
as I light the jiko

around the jiko
children talk and sing --
cold night

~ David Caleb Mutua


Charcoal vendor at a local market
Photo © Isabelle Prondzynski

cold season again
charcoal in demand --
dealers busy

four paraded jikos
outside a Soweto hotel
slowly burning up

a young man watches
charcoals passing on fire
from one to the other

early in the morning
mother lights a jiko --
smoke chokes her

~ Anthony Njoroge Irungu

Related words

***** Slum fires
(Swahili : moto (singular) mioto (plural))

***** Kotatsu, heated table Japan


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