Rise of African Independent Church movement in Kenya
1 weeks ago, 17:05
Having discussed the history of the independent school last week it would be very remiss of me not to scrutinise its twin, the African Independent Church.
The missionary and colonial expedition to Africa was predicated on the presumption that the African race was primitive, uncultured and without religion as defined in the Western world.
It was therefore the divine duty of the missionaries to educate and civilise the African, with the tacit support of the colonial administration, and instil in their subjects a Western, Christian way of life.
As Africans took up education in mission centres such as Maseno and Thogoto they began to question some of the teachings of the missionaries. They saw a close similarity between the Christian God and the God they worshipped traditionally.
For example, the Christian God lived in the skies unseen while the Kikuyu worshipped a God who lived high up on Mount Kenya and nobody had ever seen him. In the Bible there were sacred sites such as mountains, rivers, forests and special people like prophets who were sent by God to his people very much like those in traditional African religion. The Bible taught that we were all equal in the eyes of God.
In matters of social life Africans could not understand why they were forbidden to drink alcohol while European Christians indulged in their homes, clubs and hotels with joyous abandon. Neither could they comprehend why they were not allowed to marry more than one wife while the Old Testament mentioned many people with numerous wives.
The intended purpose of educating Africans was to train catechists who would then teach more Africans and eventually groom a class of church leaders. As early as 1910, the independent church known as Nomiya Mission was started in Nyanza by John Owalo as a break-away church of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) which, while professing Christian beliefs, retained many Luo cultural practices.
At about the same time in America there was growing discontent within the black community with discrimination in education, the church, business and the social environment.
In 1914, Marcus Garvey formed the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) to champion African politico-economic liberation, black control of religious, educational and cultural institutions in an audacious view that linked Africa and its diasporas.
Harry Thuku, one of Kenya’s earliest nationalists was, by 1916, keenly following the developments in America and was deeply influenced by the philosophy of Garvey as were other nationalists after World War I such as Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Nnmadi Azikiwe, Jomo Kenyatta and Nelson Mandela. When Thuku formed the East African Association (EAA) in 1921 these ideals were uppermost in his mind.
Nonetheless, the missionaries continued to insist that Christianity must be accompanied by cultural transference forcing the Kikuyu to give up their traditions, ultimately leading to a confrontation.
Robert Macpherson in his book The Presbyterian Church in Kenya notes that preaching against female circumcision in the church started as early as 1907, intensifying in 1914 when two Christian girls rejected the practice. From then on, the church waged a consistent campaign ...
Category: business news lifestyle