The influence of Luyia traditional Religious Rituals on Christianity: a case study of African Israel Church Nineveh in Vihiga County, Kenya
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Ritual syncretism has been an emotive problem which crept into Christianity since its inception by Jesus Christ. In the context of this study, the spontaneous mix of Luyia culture and Christianity resulted into the problem of marginal faith where Christians upheld their traditional beliefs. This work has examined the bonding of Luyia religious rituals with Christianity in African Israel Church Nineveh of Vihiga County. The following objectives were examined: Socio-historical origins of the Luyia and their religious beliefs and practices, Cardinal doctrines of Christianity which have a universal dynamism of cultural and spiritual nature, influence of the Luyia indigenous religious rituals on African Israel Church Nineveh and the future of the Luyia rituals in this Church. A multi-disciplinary theoretical framework comprising sociological theories of: symbolic interaction, conflict and psychological theory of motivation were used in the study. Secondary information was obtained from libraries, archives and supplemented with primary data from the field. Primary data was collected using questionnaires, interview schedules and participant observation schedules. Probability and non-probability sampling techniques were incorporated in fieldwork. The assembled data was coded using numerals and structured into chapters basing on the family- tree and the thematic approach. Qualitative and comparative approaches were used to compare Luyia indigenous with Biblical values that tended to be non-empirical. The study found that the Luyia community still value their traditional beliefs and practices besides subscribing to Christian faith. In particular, African Israel Church Nineveh which is a spiritual movement in the Luyia community blends with indigenous rituals as evidenced by the fact that they have refused to assimilate into European culture in totality. The findings further revealed that Christian doctrines are dynamic and have bonded with the Luyia traditional rituals in African Israel Church Nineveh. The areas of bonding include: health rituals, language, initiation traditions, dispute resolution rites and music. The study finally found that the interfaith bonding between the Luyia Culture and Christianity points to a bright future in regard to the spread of Christianity among the Luyia. It was concluded that African Israel Church Nineveh resulted from the clash between the Luyia culture and Christianity as brought by European missionaries. The study recommends that more investigations be carried out on African rituals to broaden knowledge on the interaction of the African indigenous religious rituals with Christianity in other African instituted Churches.
University of Nairobi
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