The centrality of marriage in African religio-culture with reference to the Maasai of Kajiado County, Kenya
Okiya, Denis Odinga
MetadataShow full item record
The study explored Maasai religio-cultural beliefs, the place of marriage in Maasai cultural and religious beliefs, to what extent Maasai cultural and religious beliefs are related to and manifested in Maasai marriage and the changes affecting Maasai marriage with regard to the religio-cultural themes. This research was guided by a thematic approach to the study of African religio-cultural knowledge and specifically by analysing the topic through the matrix of fifteen religio-cultural themes. The fifteen religio-cultural themes articulate in a systematic manner the beliefs of African Religion which are entwined and embedded in African religio-cultural knowledge, giving that knowledge a special sacral and personal dimension. The aim of this work was to explore the central role played by marriage in African religio-culture with a focus on the Maasai of Kajiado County, Kenya. The study set out to investigate if marriage manifests culture and religion and if the Maasai have a rich, persistent cultural marriage heritage with many of the historical, cultural and religious practices still largely intact and influential despite the many challenges it faces in the contemporary world. The study was exploratory in nature and adopted both qualitative and quantitative approaches. It was implemented through gathering data from members of the Maasai ethnic community in Kajiado District now Kajiado County. The sampling units considered were the number of households (96,621), the average population per division (58,000) and the total Kajiado Maasai population (464,883) as presented in the Kajiado District Strategic Plan 2005 – 2010. Primary data was collected through surveys while secondary data was collected through library research. Four sets of research instruments were used in gaining access to the primary data for the study. These were questionnaires, interview schedule, observation checklist and focus group discussion guide. The data was then analyzed using both qualitative and quantitative techniques within the purview of the research questions and fifteen African religio-cultural themes: God, Ancestors, Living Dead, Nominal Reincarnation, African Lineage, Leadership, Adulthood/Elderhood, Bridewealth, Marriage, Polygyny, Herbalist, Diviner, Witch, Witchcraft and Death. Quantitative data was summarized and presented using graphs, charts and frequency tables. This was done to exemplify main trends that were derived from certain concrete responses. Qualitative data was analyzed through content analysis. This exercise involved classifying data into key themes, patterns and relationships. Propositions and conclusions were then made based on the apparent patterns of relationships within the data. The data of this study shows that Maasai marriage manifests and reflects Maasai religio-cultural themes. The main findings corroborated, in a large way Kirwen’s theory of the fifteen themes of African Religio-Cultural Knowledge. The study recommends that in order to find sustainable solutions to challenges facing Maasai marriage, it is best to look carefully into Maasai marriage with regard to Maasai religio-cultural themes.