Culture and history: the religious experience of the Avalogoli, C.1850-1945

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Gimode, E. A.
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The study focuses on the historical evolution of the Logoli culture in general and their religion in particular up to 1945. The main thrust of the study adduces evidence to the effect that Logoli religion was dynamic in time perspective and not a mere unchanging "given". In its response to the physical and social environments, which shaped its evolution, Logoli religion was functional and focused on the survival of man. In the pre-Islamic and pre-Christian times, Logoli religion focused on the veneration of ancestors, imisambwa. The ancestral spirits were the earliest objects of worship in Logoli religious history. Later, the Logoli appropriated the concept of the Supreme Being, Nasayi/Nyasaye, from their Kalenjin neighbours. The introduction of Islam and Christianity on the Logoli cultural landscape marked yet another stage in the evolution of the Logoli religion. These new religions did not displace the indigenous religion, but rather became new blends, which further enriched the Logoli religious experience. By 1945, Logoli religion had survived mutatis mutandis. Islam had initially proved more appealing to the Logoli than Christianity because of several similarities in the two cultures. Christianity, however, came to claim more allegiance from the Logoli, not because it was most appealing, but because it was more utilitarian than Islam in the emerging colonial socio-economic set up. To gain material prosperity, the Logoli needed the education offered by the missionaries. This gave the impression of conversion, when in actual fact the Logoli continued on served aspects of their religion and customs, much to the disapproval of the missionaries. The Separatist Movement began in the 1920's and went on unabated throughout the 1930'w. It probably represents the embodiment of the cultural mutation that had been going on among the Logoli during the first decades of the twentieth century. Having accepted the spiritual dimension of Christianity, the Separatists nevertheless went ahead to question and reject the rest of the western culture, which was presented as part of Christianity. One did not have to be an imitator of European and Americans to be a good Christian. Christianity had to serve the needs of the Logoli in the context of their cultural milieu.
The DT 435.43.A9G5
Culture//Religion and Culture -- Western Kenya