Environmental Management and African Indigenous Resources: Echoes from Mutira Mission, Kenya (1912-2012)
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Unlike other elements of culture, European missionaries did not explicitly dismiss home-grown ways of environmental conservation as “fetish” as in the case of cultural practices such as female circumcision. Indeed, they appreciated local resources in environmental protection as “other” ways. To this end, the article sets out to show the contribution of African indigenous resources in environmental preservation with particular reference to Mutira Mission of Kirinyaga County, central Kenya, during and after the missionary era (1912-2012). In turn, the geographical area that constitutes Mutira Mission in Mount Kenya region is dominated by the largest ethnic group in Kenya, the Gikuyu, anglicised as the Kikuyu. They constitute 22% of the entire Kenyan population of about 40 million people. In its methodology, the article uses Kikuyu cultural practices such as proverbs, riddles, rituals and so forth to demonstrate African indigenous ways of environmental preservation. The problem statement being unveiled is: How unique is the African use of indigenous resources in environmental preservation; and how does the missionary era compare with the pre-missionary era? The theoretical framework in this article is informed by John S Mbiti’s view of natural phenomena, where he contends that traditional Africans live in a religious environment where the cosmos is intimately associated with God. The materials in this article are largely gathered through oral interviews and archival sources.