Chonyi people

The Chonyi, also referred to as Achonyi (A person from this tribe may also be referred to as an Mchonyi), are one of the smaller tribes of the Mijikenda on the coast of Kenya.

Total population
Regions with significant populations
African Traditional Religion, Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Mijikenda, other Bantu peoples


Their populations can be found in the villages of Lutsangani, Chidutani, Kolongoni, Dzitsoni, Bungu, Bundacho, Ziani, Karimboni, Chasimba, Galanema, Mwele, Bodoi, Chigojoni, Dindiri, Junju, Katikirieni, Podzoni, Mwarakaya, Pingilikani, Vwevwesi, Mafisini, Ng'ombeni, Chizingo, Chikambala, Chengoni, Chije, Banda-ra-Salama, Mbomboni, chilobole and Mbuyuni. They are also found in recent settlements areas of Kilifi District like Chumani, Roka, Maweni, Vipingo, Takaungu and Mtwapa.[citation needed]


According to a Chonyi myth, the Achonyi originated in Singwaya (or Shungwaya), which was to the north of the Somali coast. They were driven south by the Oromo until they reached their present locations along the ridge, where they built their kayas within a protective setting.

The historical accuracy of this myth is a point of controversy between those who believe that the Mijikenda originated from a single point in the north and those who believe that they do not have a single origin, but migrated primarily from the south.


Where "kiti" means chair in Swahili, "Kihi" is Giriama and "Chihi" is Chonyi. Similar, but recognizably different languages. Like the other Mijikenda tribes, the Chonyi live in settlements known as "Kaya." The original "Kaya Chonyi" is located on a forested hill top. In the center of the Kaya were shrines where the elders or "atumia" would pray to god or "Mulungu".

The Chonyi's traditional music, known as the Chiring'ong'o, features the xylophone, rare in Kenyan music.[2]


The naming of the chonyi people is symbolic, for example, MBEYU is a name of a girl mbeyu meaning seeds for planting. KARISA means a boy who is a herder most probably born when her mother was in the field grazing. NYAMVULA is a girl name meaning a rainy season, born during times of rains. MOKOLI is a boy name meaning a person who is helpful. Names are also often repeated in the family. The names of the father's uncles and aunts would become the names of his children, this would be repeated with the mother's side of the family.

Once the names from both sides of the family have been used the parents can choose original names. Another interesting fact about names is that the first name of the father will become the last name of the rest of the family. An example would be if one's name is KARISA MZUNGU, KARISA would be the last name of his children and wife. Although it is a tradition to name your family in this way it is a practice that is slowly fading.


  1. ^ "2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census Volume IV: Distribution of Population by Socio-Economic Characteristics". Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  2. ^ Trillo, Richard (2013). The Rough Guide to Kenya. Rough Guides. p. 715. ISBN 978-1-409-36371-2.


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