What’s your age set?
After our Gichiaro story, we received requests for a post on the Meru age groups (nthuki). We will tackle that very soon, but first, let’s look at the more straightforward, and important component of age groups, and that’s male age sets.
Kiiji/Mwiji (No Age Set)
You are, generally, a mwiji if you are uncircumcised. These are boys within the Ameru culture and is a range between 0 and around 15 years. If you are much older than that, you are a mukuru mwiji and can be forcibly circumcised.
A kiiji is between 0 and 7 years and you graduate into a mwiji after you get your second set of teeth, and now you are ready to be circumcised. Unaweza kula nyama za uzee sasa kama Uhuru. 🙂
Nding’uri/Ntaane (Miriti Age set)
That circumcision age is called Nding’uri. That’s when you are ready to be circumcised. Back in the days, Meru males used to get circumcised at around ages 15-18. And when you have been circumcised, you are, of course, Ntaane until the next circumcision season.
Oh, once you get circumcised, now you are an official member of an age set – called Miriti.
Remind us to describe to you how boys and girls got circumcised., one of these days.
Muthaka (Murungi age set)
Maasais have morans and Merus have nthaka. This is the age between getting circumcised and getting married. These were the guys who would defend the community from enemies and escort girls and boys to the rivers/herds fields.
The ages here are between 18 and 29 and these bad boys belonged to an age set called Murungi and this terminated after you got married.
Muruau (Kiramana; Kiramunya age set)
Once you got married you now graduated from a nthaka to a (not Mukuru as many people say), but a family head or apprentice elder. You know, like an intern. You could be called to be an observer in elder meetings but you were not allowed to solve any issues. If your opinion was asked for, it was a test to establish if you could sit at the table of men. (sorry, Guinness)
This continued until your first son became a circumcised man, which could have been around age 45. You were either a Kiramana or a Kiramunya here.
Mukuru (Kaburia Age set)
Here is where the ruling elders and community decision makers were. The community was basically ruled by these elders as the hands, or rather, ministers of the Mukiama. Whereas not everyone was qualified to be a Njuri Ncheke, these were respected people who used to run their clans, villages, or the entire community.
The ages here were between 40 and 51 when people are said to be the wisest. Age set, Kaburia.
Mzee (Kubai/Nturutimi/Thamburu Age Set)
This next age set was known as Ritual Elders because they were now relinquishing their ruling power to the new Kaburias, and training them to run the community. They would attend meetings but only on advisory roles and not necessarily to make any decisions.
At ages around 52 and 60, this age set called Kubai, Nturutimi or Thamburu is like a fresh retiree. They weren’t working but could be called upon to pass on some knowledge.
The next stage after this was, of course, death, and the elders were rested as they grew older, and taken care of till they became ancestors.
This said and done… if you are a Meru man, what is your age set? Tell us in comments below. If you are not, write what it would be.