The Mijikenda ("the Nine Tribes") are nine Bantuethnic groups inhabiting the coast of Kenya, between the Sabaki and the Umba rivers, in an area stretching from the border with Tanzania in the south to the border near Somalia in the north. Archaeologist Chapuruka Kusimba contends that the Mijikenda formerly resided in coastal cities, but later settled in Kenya's hinterlands to avoid submission to dominant Portuguese forces that were then in control. Historically, these Mijikenda ethnic groups have been called the Nyika or Nika by outsiders. It is a derogatory term meaning "bush people."
Each of the Mijikenda groups has a sacred forest, a kaya, which is a place of prayer. Eleven of the approximately 30 kaya forests have been inscribed together as a UNESCOWorld Heritage Site, the Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests. Mijikenda people are also known for creating wooden kigango funerary statues for which there is an illegal international market.