Mutual-Credit a cultural heritage for the Kikuyu Tribe and Humanity

Tags: heritage, UNESCO, Kikuyu, Mwethia, Mwethia


Mutual-Credit a cultural heritage for the Kikuyu Tribe and Humanity

Image (above) exemplifies the joy, care and teachings in which Kikuyu elders once passed on cultural traditions of mutual-aid like Mwethia to the next generation. Kenya is a country with a rich cultural heritage that is expressed through traditional practices, including community-led initiatives. These initiatives have played a crucial role in promoting solidarity and social cohesion among members of various communities in the country. However, over time, the importance of such practices has been eroded due to modernization and urbanization.

image Image (above) exemplifies a family taking part in grinding cereals to make fermented porridge for a traditional Mwethia meal.

Mutual-credit (in which a group of people collectively offer eachother credit - often in the form of promises against future work) has been one of THE essential aspects of human heritage, acting as a foundation for social cooperation and reciprocity. It was integral in fostering communities that help each other thrive and grow. This concept can be observed in traditions of rotating labor and mutual-aid, which exemplify the Golden Rule for reciprocity. Nearly all indigenous cultures cultures have practiced such systems. Examples of mutual-credit-like systems involving rotational aid, promises and reciprocity in ancient cultures outside Kenya include:

. Susu (West Africa): The Susu system is a traditional savings and loans practice in which individuals contribute to a common fund and take turns receiving the accumulated amount. This arrangement allowed members to access larger sums of money and resources, fostering collaboration and trust among the community members. . The Potlatch (Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast): The Potlatch is a ceremonial event wherein members of the community gather to exchange gifts, redistribute wealth, and maintain social balance. It is a practice that fosters strong bonds within the community and encourages mutual support. *. Iroquois Confederacy (Native American tribes in northeastern North America): The Iroquois practiced a form of mutual aid known as the "Great Law of Peace," which required tribes to help each other in times of need, promoting harmony and cooperation among the participating tribes.


Image (above) exemplifies a family taking part in preparing for a traditional Mwethia by building together.

I’m so happy to together with Grassroots Economics’ support reviving this heritage in Kenya through the combination of traditional mutual-credit systems with modern blockchain technology for enhanced accountability and interoperability. Community groups create vouchers (aka Community Inclusion Currencies CICs)as promises against their goods and services. By using blockchain technology, CICs provide a secure, transparent, and decentralized platform for accountability, security and transparency. This innovative approach enables communities to build trust and cooperation, as transactions are easily verifiable, and the digital nature of the currency makes it highly interoperable with other CICs and national currencies - meaning many communities can co-create bioregional economies based on trust. The use of CICs empowers marginalized communities by giving them greater control over their local economy, encouraging self-sufficiency, and fostering a more resilient and sustainable economic system.

image (above) Modern community members tilling a members farm during a Mwethia last week.

The practice "Merry- go-round" known as "Mweria" in the Mijikenda language, “Wagur or Nyoluoro” in Dholuo and "Mwethia" in Kikuyu and Kamba is a practice that involves a group of people committing to work as a group at each any every member’s home in a rotation, where each member gets to host a Mwerthya and provide some food. The host would call a Mwerthya based on their needs and follow a seasonal calendar to prepare the home and farms. In addition to reintroducing Mwethia among the Kikuyu people of Kenya, Grassroots Economics recognises the rich cultural heritage that encompasses the various aspects of our lives including social, political, human, natural, economic, and physical and which have contributed to trust and cohesion within communities.

image (above image) Tunaweza Gona B, tilling one of the members' farms during a Mwethia session. The land would have otherwise taken him days to clear . All the members were paid by the Mwethia host in TNG vouchers that had been collected beforehand for this occasion. If some members don’t attend, their TNG vouchers can be used at the local market.

image (above) Some of the Kwekende chama members in Siaya are thrilled at the idea of Wagur reintroduction. The excitement on the faces of chama members, especially in rural areas such as Kinango, Kilifi, Siaya, and Kitui, has been palpable as they recall the practice of Mwethia from their childhood and see it being revitalized in their communities. These traditional practices like Mwethia and Wagur as well as CIC for accountability and interoperability are simply tools. The foundation further helps communities come up with a Vision. The process involves grouping and regrouping until the group agrees on a common Vision for their community/chama (often drawn on paper as seen below). To achieve their Vision, the group is facilitated to understand and note down their current reality (via asset mapping). They then come up with SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) action steps, each with a timeline and an accountable person. Tools / practices like Mwerthya and CIC are used in these action steps. The goal was and is not simply to develop markets but to create a system of mutual-aid such that the community doesn’t need to depend on markets and national currency alone, while building community assets (social, spiritual, physical, governance, economic and natural).

image (above) This is a group's vision, well drawn, current reality and action steps noted in a SMART manner.

The foundation is lucky to have committed Community Development Officers ( Mbui, Joyce, Amina, Sylvia, Janet Francisca, Emma, Antony, Wilfred, Mwanaidi, Jacob and Nadzua) who walk with these groups in a bid to meet their visions. Many groups in all our communities have already achieved a few action steps towards their vision, and the organization prides itself on thriving when the community thrives.

Witnessing positive change in the communities we work with is a testament to the power of Community Inclusion Currencies and indigenous knowledge and wisdom. By embracing these practices and working to understand their value, we can co-create sustainable and inclusive communities that work together to achieve common goals. We look forward to communities and people all over the world supporting the revitalization of Mwethia and other indigenous practices that promote community inclusion and sustainability.

image (above) The team that makes it all happen with ther love and dedication.