Afro-Pentecostalism and the Kenyan Political Landscape
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The history of modern Kenya that dates back to the 1880s when trading activities began in the coastal region of Kenya under the Imperial British East Africa (IBEA) company, and subsequent colonialism, has always depicted the church, particularly the mission churches, as one which has always played a socio-political role. Following Kenya’s independence from the British, in 1963, the mission churches continued with their holistic ministries to the present moment. In the twenty-first century, however, Pentecostalism, which has repackaged itself as the ‘real’ guardians of the African heritage and spirituality, has however taken over some of the critical socio-political roles previously seen in some of the mission churches such as the Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Presbyterians, and Methodists among others. In the coastal region as in the rest of the country, the article argues, it is foolhardy to ignore its activities, particularly after the 2010 Kenyan constitutional referendum when the country adopted a semi-federal political model, otherwise called the 47 devolved governments. In view of this, the article sets out to demonstrate the strong influence of the emerging Christianities in Kenya in socio-political affairs. In its methodology, it surveys the growth of Pentecostal wave since the 1960s when TL Osborn inaugurated the movement in Kenya. It goes on to show the changing patterns of Pentecostalism where, in Kenya, its ability to capture African ethos of wholeness where religion provides solution to every life problem, such as disunity, health and economy among others. Hence, various challenges in the coastal region of Kenya such as inter-ethnic/regional divisions, insecurity, water borne diseases, historical injustices find their solution in Christianity. Addressing cutting-edge issues facing the African society, without necessarily loosing their gospel constituency makes the emerging Christianitiesbecome afro-Pentecostalism. In this article, the unique challenges of Kenya’s coastal region are case studied purposely to show the missiological tasks of the emerging Christianities in the holistic growth of the region and the country at large. The article covers a 204 wide range of issues, scholarly literature and reports (including newspaper articles and blogs etc.), and other background materials. Formal methods employed focused on short surveys and semistructured interviews; informal observations and meetings that complemented these methods.