Kikuyu: Social and Political Institutions, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover


Social and Political Institutions, 1st Edition

By H. E. Lambert


156 pages

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Originally published in 1956, the main emphasis of the book is on the complex age-set organization which constitutes the framework within which the life of every Kikuyu is regulated from infancy to old age. The book shows how the political and territorial organization, the judicial system and the administration of justice, the training of leaders, the structure and the control of social life are all integrated into the age-set system.

Table of Contents

1. The Tribes of the Unit

2. General Terms Denoting Age

3. The Regimental System (Kikuyu, Embu, Meru)

4. Pre-Initiation Age-Sets

5. The Generation

6. Rituals of the Age Organization

7. Social Functions of the Age Organization

8. Military Functions of the Age Organization

9. Political functions of the Age Organization

About the Author

Harold E. Lambert OBE (1893-1967) was a British linguist and anthropologist in Kenya. He remained very active as a Swahili language scholar until his death in Nairobi, 1967

About the Series

African Ethnographic Studies of the 20th Century

Routledge is delighted to be re-issuing 79 volumes originally published between 1931 and 1988 in association with the International African Institute. Unavailable outside a few key libraries, many of these republished volumes were at the cutting edge of a fieldwork and ethnographic revolution in African anthropology in the decades after 1930. It involved the production of a wide body of fieldwork-based ethnographic documentation about the cultures of the different societies in Africa. Secondly, it saw a methodological turn to intense, localized investigations of cultural tradition and social change in a rapidly modernizing context. These investigations involved a more sustained and systematic, more professional and ‘scientific’ form of immersion and participant observation, than anything that had gone before. The sites of engagement were urban as well as rural; the pioneering researchers were female as well as male. No longer was the journal essay the repository of the latest research in the discipline, but rich ethnographies running into hundreds of pages.

The volumes are supplemented with maps, which will be available to view on or available as pdfs from the publishers.


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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies