Kidimu Chicken

Ark of taste
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Kuku wa Kidimu

The Kidimu chicken is a special breed of chicken with a very different appearance from other breeds. At first glance, someone unfamiliar with this chicken may even think that it is sick. It is smaller in size and has ruffled feathers that characteristically curl upwards, unlike other chickens. Kidimu chickens are kept both for eggs and meat, and their meat is considered more flavorful than other breeds. It could once commonly be found throughout Kenya’s costal region, but these days it is mainly found in Kilifi County (about 60 km north of Mombasa).

The Kidimu breed has been kept for generations within the Giriama community, and the chicken was commonly used during different festivals. It was, and still is, a taboo to slaughter and serve the a Kidimu chicken for visitors (which is expressed in the phrase kuku wa kidimu hachinjiwi mgeni, or, “Kidimu chicken is not slaughtered for visitors to eat.”). This demonstrates the close cultural tie between this breed and the Giriama community. To some extent, this chicken was associated with divine powers; diviners would use this breed in healing rituals. There is a belief among the local community that after showering seven times with clean water and a few drops of Kidimu chicken blood and the leaves of a particular tree, one would be healed of any ailments.

Where it is still kept, this chicken is mainly raised for home consumption, but it is also sold on a small scale at the village level. However, since this breed of chicken grows slowly and is less productive, many people have embraced imported, exotic breeds that grow faster and larger. Furthermore, with the spread of Christianity and Islam in the region, the ritual and cultural uses of this breed have lost their importance. For these reasons, the number of kuku wa kidimu is reduced, and without a concentrated effort on preserving the population and its genetic biodiversity, this breed and its historical ties to the Giriama community may be lost in the near future.

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Breeds and animal husbandry

Indigenous community:Giriama (Mijikenda)