Accepted paper:

Trust in tension: how the traditional people rely on religious others in everyday practice among the Giriama/Mijikenda of Kenya


Ishmael Baya (Oxford Centre of Mission Studies)

Paper short abstract:

I will explore trust in tension between the traditional and the Christian among the Giriama living in the Kenyan coast. How the Giriama rely on others in everyday practice. Transgression of the Giriama rules will be a crucial point for discussion.

Paper long abstract:

The Giriama/Mijikeda peoples living in the Kenyan coast are known to have been resolute not to convert to Islam even after living among the Swahili sphere of influence for more than four centuries. Neither have they shown a lot of enthusiasm in Christianity unlike their counterparts in the up-country majority. The Giriama resoluteness to both foreign religions is due to several reasons, one of which is their self-sufficiency in their traditional religion. Second is their understanding of the process of proselytisation or conversion. These two words, proselytization and conversion, do not exist in the vocabulary of the Giriama, instead they use the word ku-angira dini, 'to enter into a religion', which has a negative connotation of abandoning one's culture and enters into another culture. In the traditional sense, those who have moved out or converted are no longer regarded as a Giriama. Meanwhile, the Giriama converts look down upon the traditional Giriama as backward, primitive, and evil. There is, therefore, a tension between these two groups whenever they meet as evidenced during certain life-cycle rituals, such as burials and weddings. In contrast the Christian Giriama and the traditional Giriama are living together in everyday life in the same village or location. I will discuss how the traditional Giriama trust religious others such as the Christian Girirama in everyday practice by focusing on transgression of socio-cultural rules among the Giriama society in the Kenyan coast.

panel G20
Trust in super-diversity