Parsons School of Design
BFA Communication Design
Thesis 2020

Anthony Muchai Muiruri
Tongue and Tribe

Tongue and tribe. Why do I speak English better than my mother tongue, Kikuyu? I was born in Nairobi, Kenya two generations post-independence from British colonial rule in 1963. The forceful imposition of the imperial rule led to the erosion of the cultural identity of my people, who adopted foreign practices. By primarily speaking English, many in my generation never got a chance to learn their native languages.

In his book Afrikan Alphabets, author and design educator Saki Mafundikwa notes that “language was one of the most powerful weapons used against colonized Afrikan people.” Each time I say I am from the Kikuyu tribe, but I cannot speak the language, causes an internal conflict. I feel like I am unable to access a part of my identity and authentically express myself. Tongue and tribe is a product of personal reflection on what it means for me to be a Kikuyu person today.

In undertaking this project, I explore my history and heritage interpreting it in a creative way to understand how communication design can help me learn my native language and empower my peers to do the same. The core component of my thesis is the development of a typeface that is inspired by Mount Kenya, an important social and geographic landmark of the Kikuyu people. The goal of my work is to showcase, celebrate, and preserve Kikuyu culture. This establishes the notion that our heritage and traditions are still relevant in an increasingly globalized world, one that tends to flatten out the multiplicities of our layered identities.

Yehia Abouseif

Nia Acosta

Kamal Adisa

Sakshi Agarwal

Sejal Aggarwal

Lily Saeli

K.C. Amable

Sulamita Javier Balanutsa

Emily Baro

Emily Bergerson

Xiujie Bi

Sonja Briney

Kayla Van der Byl

Dahee Byun

Kimberly Chan

Krish Chandiramani

Militza A. Rodríguez Charr

Julie Yu Chen

Xingman Cheng

Habin Cheong

Kristen Chik

Paloma Corrigan

Misha Dhanoolal

Vicky Fan

Vincent Garcia

Cyril Gordon

Yangchen Maya Gruben

Maria Guardazzi

Gideon Gulko

Esra Gumrukculer

Aanya Gupta

Arani Halder

Bobby Hill

Jinghan Hu

Olivia Hunter

Sejung Hwang

Geddes Alexander II

Jyudeh Maximilian Russ Jarrett

Madison Jennings

Won Kyung Jung

Inga Kan

Suji Kang

Ayse Yaren Kaya

Prithi Khalique

Shanjida Kibria

Celine Kim

Seowon Kim

Suah Kim

Youjong Kim

Rasheka Krishan

Eli Lederberg

Grace Ledoux

Alicia Lee

Hyunseo Suzy Lee

Natashia Lee

Rachel J. Lee

Yoo An Lee

Tiffany Leung

Emily Li

Sinong Li

Qiyao Lin

Jiayi Liu

Sichao Liu

Morella Tovar M

Ares Maia

Sophia Marinelli

Julia McGillicuddy

Sanika Mehta

Eleni Mentis

Anthony Muchai Muiruri

Daniel Mullins

Meredith Nelson

Ruowen Niu

Catalina O'Connor

Hyun sun Ohm

Carolyn Olaguivel

Lorna Oppenheim

Kyle Palma

Anastasia Contos Papakonstantinou

Brendon Park

Jimin Park

LeeJun Park

Sanha Park

Tommy Park

Tunchanok Patana-anake

Sean Phan

Delaney Poitras

Vincent Privitera

Jhoenny Ramirez

Taylor Sade Raschillo

Zhen (Yoomi) Ren

Elizabeth Richards

Rachel Rudolph

Leoder Sanchez

Maria Sanchez

Simon Sciacovelli

Shreya Shah

Seth Sharbono

Cindy Shi

Mimi Shih

Avni Shivkumar

Arunima Sinha

Shivam Sinha

Jason Decker Sloves

Bailey Storms

Tingyu Su

Yuchen Su

Kelt Tobunluepop

Kiana Toossi

Shivani Toshniwal

Jeanette Tran

Valerie Trisnadi

Yi-Chieh Tsai

Manasi Vashi

Emil Waldron

Isabella Wang

Jingyi Wang

Yuzheng Wang

Sophie Westfall

Ellie Wolfond

Jiapei Wu

Andy Yang

Xinchen Zhang

Yujing Zhang

Evelin Susan Fung Zhong

Evgeniya Zykova