• Jennifer LaRue University of Georgia
Keywords: Kenya, mũtũrĩrũ, flute, Agĩkũyũ, bark flute


Based on observations, interviews, and recordings collected in Kenya in May-June 2015, this article presents a summary of the search for a nearly “extinct” musical instrument and the need for advocacy research. The mũtũrĩrũ, originally an oblique bark flute of the Agĩkũyũ of Kenya, is also made from more durable bamboo and plastic. Initial investigations suggested that the flute was no longer played due to urbanization, modernization of farming techniques, and the loss of certain rituals and dances. Discovery of several elders who still play mũtũrĩrũ and the process of watching them build and play bark, bamboo, and spider web mũtũrĩrũs is narrated. The challenges of preserving a tradition when the cultural context for performance no longer exists and potential opportunities for a re-introduction of the mũtũrĩrũ to contemporary Kenyan culture through intentional curriculum, traditional performances and advocacy in Kenyan cultural centers are discussed.


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Interviews by author:
Kagari, Nelson. Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga, Kenya. 2, 9, 12 June 2015.
Kahiga, John. Kikuyu, Kenya. 26 May 2015.
Karanja, Samson. Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga, Kenya. 2, 9, 12 June 2015.
Mackenzie, Raymond. Nairobi, Kenya. 13 May 2015.
Maisiba, Ken. Gilgil, Kenya. 11 May 2015.
Muraguri, Charity. Kikuyu, Kenya. 17 May 2015.
Ng’ang’a. Nairobi, Kenya. 15 May 2015.

Personal communication with author:
Katuli, John. 4 September 2016.
Wanyoike, Antony. 11 May, 29 September 2015.
How to Cite
LaRue, J. “PRESERVATION AND REVITALISATION OF THE ENDANGERED GĨKŨYŨ FLUTE”. African Music: Journal of the International Library of African Music, Vol. 10, no. 2, Nov. 2016, pp. 126-39, doi: