Inculturation of the concept of God in the traditional religion on the Abagusii of Western Kenya
Nyabwari, Bernard Gechiko
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The purpose of this study was to inculturate the concept of God in the traditional religion of Abagusii of Western Kenya. Further, the study had three specific objectives. First, to examine Gusii traditional concept of God (Engoro) in their religiosity. Second, to investigate the influence of Christianity on Gusii traditional concept and to provide a balanced, holistic and integral way of life. This study employed a descriptive research design. Through purposive sampling method, data collected constitute the Ekerenyo, Nyamira, Manga, Rigoma and Borabu zones which form the Nyamira District where the study was carried out. A total sample of 52 respondents was interviewed. Questionnaires were used to collect data vis-a-vis participant observation, oral interviews and analysis of documents from library sources. The overall data were collected, analyzed, interpreted and discussed using Neibuhr's (1951) Christological model of God and Culture in the God above Culture, God against Culture, God of Culture, God and Culture in Paradox and God the Transformer of Culture paradigms. This conceptual framework shows that there are some Gusii socio-religio-cultural practices which need to be either eliminated, retained or refined. The research findings reveal that Abagusii believe in the existence of God (Engoro) in their traditional religion. In spite of their traditional concept of God, Christianity assumed this reality, influenced the people's concept of God and did not see the need to inculturate Gusii traditional concept of God. This condition has influenced people's decline of their inclination to God and that has predisposed them to socio-moral evils in the society. Inculturation of Gusii anthropomorphic, animal and bird images of God makes Abagusii perceive God as real, near and present with them in their daily lives. The study recommends Christianity should inculturate Gusii traditional concept of God. The laity, the clergy and the ordinary church members need to participate in the inculturation process.