The worlds of Gikuyu mythology: a structural analysis
This study addresses the methodological and definitional shortcomings in mythological analysis. Divesting the typological definition of "myth", that sees myth as one type of story as opposed to another; we define myth as any tale in the Gikuyu community. In addition to this, we adopt a methodology that seeks not only the structural unity of Gikuyu mythology that seeks not only the structural unity of Gikuyu mythology but also recognizes the potential for signification of delineated mythological structures. We proceed from the postulate that myth is like language whose various constituent elements in mythology are called mythemes. Taking the worlds of Gikuyu Mythology as the mythology's mythemes, we in the study test the hypothesis that the structural model of the transformational relationships of the worlds of Gikuyu mythology is related to Gikuyu society and culture and it thus provides a basis for analysis of the mythology. Using a corpus of twenty purposefully sampled myths, we proceed to identify the worlds of Gikuyu mythology. We have then constructed a structural model showing how these worlds relate. Through the transformational relationships of these worlds we have discovered that Gikuyu mythology expresses two imaginative domains in Gikuyu modes of thought. These are Existential imagination, represented by a vertical axis on the structural model and the other is the Moral imagination represented by a horizontal axis. We have proceeded to relate these two axes to the Gikuyu society and culture, with insights from the latter adduced from extensive and detailed ethnographic data. The hypothesis formulated for this study has thus been sustained. With it, our definition and method have proved productive.