Tiri Concept and its Huge Significance in Africa’s Religio-Culture: A reflection on the Gikuyu Beliefs and Practices Related to the Sacredness of Land
Ngare, Grace Wamue
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The article sets out to document the European interruption on Gikuyu beliefs and practices that are related to the soil (tiri). It highlights the Gikuyu worldview, their interconnectedness with land and the spiritual significance attached to it. It sets out on the premise that besides all colonial maneuvers, the inference with beliefs on tiri heightened Gikuyu anger, thereby increasing their resilience to fight the Europeans out of Kenya. It argues that the Gikuyu, being at the core of the liberation struggle from colonialism, interference with beliefs, customs, and rituals related to land and its social, economic, cultural and religious significance, was a strong catalyst in the Mau Mau struggle. In its methodology and design, it utilizes oral interviews, written documents, and archival records to give a critical analysis of Gikuyu religio-cultural beliefs and attitudes towards land/ tiri . The article analyzes the Gikuyu myth of creation and how that influenced land acquisition, tenure, utilization, beliefs and rituals, observing that land was considered sacred especially its tangible concept tiri (soil). The Gikuyu viewed tiri as a sacred gift from Ngai that united the un-born, the living, the departed (dead), members of the community. T iri was physically, economically, socially, and spiritually important as ancestors were buried in it, a phenomenon that maintained the metaphysical and unbroken link between the dead and the living. The article took the concept tiri and not necessarily land, to demonstrate how the interruption of beliefs and practices, of a people who are so attached to their land, caused a major revolt that climaxed with the Mau Mau struggle (1952-60). It concludes that tiri acted as a central unifying factor for liberation movements that inspired uMkonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation) that waged guerrilla war against the apartheid regime, among others in Africa.