Sustainability of the Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests heritage!

Economic problems as well as environmental issues are the main threats to the sustainability of the sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests. The efforts to restore this world heritage site is an investment for ecological restoration for the protection of its wildlife and vegetation in the area. Sustainability also helps to promote economic development through techniques such as ecotourism. This also benefits the community because it preserves historic significance of cultural development. The conservation of this site benefits natives, and non-natives in that they will be enlightened bout the Mijikenda people`s traditional culture and their ancestors.   the-kaya-mrima-forest The Kaya forest have a rich with biodiversity, rare and endemic species which is not surprising since the forests use to be much more extensive. Ten of the Kaya forests were accepted to the world heritage list because they of them being sacred for the Mijikenda people, they provide a cultural landscape for religious and historical relevance of Mijikenda heritage, utilization of the Kayas natural resources which allows the surrounding to be sustained, and are associated with local and national spiritual beliefs. It also provides natural conservation for species, and habitats as well as environmental conservation for soils, springs and so on. sofwales_kaya_elders The conservation of this site proves its significance through the ritualistic practices that once took place and the spiritual properties that the forests contain which are considered to be sacred to the natives of the land. They also offer historical significance. Even though there is a consistent pattern of paths, markings and clearings as an imprint of humanity the trees appear to be undisturbed. These markings, paths, and clearings show evidence of original settlers at the site. They also relate to the myth of origin or migration of the different Mijikenda communities. This is why they named the forests Ma-kaya because Kaya means home in their language. There are actual nine distinct groups of Mijikenda, which translates to nine tribes. The Mijikenda people were all once one people living together in Singwaya then they migrated to Kenya due to conflict with other communities. They established communities hidden by thick forests and only approachable by narrow paths in order to avoid more conflict and defend themselves.From Singwaya, each of the groups brought their own ritual talisman known as fingo, which were buried in the new settlements. The Kaya forests were all that remained of that time, preserved by their clearings and sacred sites as places for rituals and spiritual sites for material and spiritual well-being of the community. Now they are used for agricultural purposes but are still comprised of distinct cultural aspects.


Of course like other of natural heritage sites, this site is a spot that is susceptible to ecotourism. First they were managed by elders of the Mijikenda tribes now they are watched over by the National Museums of Kenya. Visitation is limited, thus, creating a lack of economic benefits. This has brought developmental pressures for the communities. Many of the properties have been taken and developed upon against the wishes of the communities. Fortunately, many of the Kayas demonstrate traditional knowledge, practices and communal commitment to the sustainability of the heritage which is why they are declared national monuments and protected by Kenyan laws that they will not become victims of agricultural development that would ruin their natural state .

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7 Responses to Sustainability of the Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests heritage!

  1. masonanderson says:

    I wonder if ecologists have managed the border effect to conserve wildlife in the Kaya forest.

  2. bvasquez5 says:

    It’s a good thing that there are no visitors allowed in the Kaya forests because not only could it destroy the environment but it could also misplace the people.

  3. As interesting as the Kaya forest is I am glad its not being disrupted by mankind. But I hope it stays that way considering the economic purposes. Hopefully they wont need to result to tourism.

  4. rstadnitskiy says:

    I remember reading about the Kaya Forests in our book. I was confused about who makes the major decisions?

  5. acontreras26 says:

    I feel like humans tend to mess up most natural sites, so it is a good thing that we do not interfere with the ecosystem here as much as we do others.

  6. mbaldwin3 says:

    I hope this site is able to remain secluded from the public. It would be a shame to see it go away.

  7. rolmos3 says:

    Its good to see that its not just a group like UNESCO trying to keep the area sustained, but the country itself, because groups like that cant really do anything just by themselves.

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