The Intervention of Ugo Beliefs and Practices among Gikuyu Presbyterian Christians of Nyeri Presbytery (1908-2008)
Muraya, Hezekiah Murage
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The beliefs and practices in iigo remain an issue for the Church in Kenya. In particular, the Gikiiyi: have been evangelized and indeed have lived with Christianity for over a hundred years, but most of them have continue with beliefs and practices in iigo. This scenario precipitates dualism. In this regard, the study sought to address religious dualism among Gikiiyii PCEA Christians of Nyeri Presbytery; which has been perceived by the church as hindrance to spiritual growth. It aimed at resolving dualism and offer Gikfiyfi PCEA Christians wholistic living. The study employed three theoretical models, namely; Turner's ritual symbolism theory. The theory was useful in describing the functional and structural aspects of the beliefs and practices in iigo (their organizations, values and meanings). Horton's theory of African religion as one of prediction, control and manipulation of mystical powers to work in their favor; this was instrumental in evaluating and identifying Gikiiyii religion as one entailing a quest for achieving control of events in the current world. Niebuhr's missiological model was vital in evaluating and identifying the beliefs and practices in iigo that merit inculturation. The study employed both quantitative and qualitative data. Four levels of sampling procedures were used: purposive, random, stratified and snowball. A total sample size of 342 respondents, which comprised of six ago (diviner-healers) was used. The instruments for data collection were observation, in-depth interviews and self-administered questionnaires. The research findings reveal that beliefs and practices in iigo are deeply rooted within the Gikiiyii religio-cultural worldview. This is a view that gives credence to the interrelatedness between material and the spiritual world. The Gikiiyi; continue to perceive Ago as divine agents in charge of the entire medical discipline. Further, the community has a "disease-theory system" which identifies, classifies and explains diseases and misfortunes in physical and spiritual dimensions. However, the Church of Scotland Mission condemned this reality, equating it with Satanism and therefore unfit for inculturation. As such, they transposed their home brand Christianity, culture, education, denominational organizational structures and medicine and planted them indiscriminately among the Gikiiyii. Resilient to beliefs and practices in iigo makes Gzkiiyii Christians revert to the same to obtain spiritual nourishment that lacks in Mission Christianity. This reversion precipitates a situation of religious dualism, spurred by the Gikiiyi; PCEA Christians understanding of health, illness and healing from an African perspective that takes into account both physical and spiritual aspects. This has devastating effects upon the PCEA. In order to bridge religious duality and offer Gikiiyi: PCEA Christians an integrated wholistic life, this study has proposed and inculturation procedure. This process involves integrating cultural elements, that are in tandem with Biblical teachings into Christianity and replacing those that are incompatible. Such integration not only enriches the Presbyterian Church by overcoming dualism among the Christians, but also gives them wholistic Christian life.