The Impact of Christian Education and Cultural Conflict Among the Kikuyu Community

Topics: Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, History of Kenya Pages: 9 (3457 words) Published: June 4, 2012
The first missionaries to settle on the East African coast were Portuguese Roman Catholics. By 1557 they had established monasteries at Mombasa and Lamu, Kenyan coastal towns. The second wave of Christian missionaries included the Lutherans, who were sent to Kenya through the Church Missionary Society (CMS). Among these were Johann Ludwig Krapf, Johann Rebman, and Jacob Erhadt. As the missionaries established themselves on the mainland, they started schools as a means of converting Africans to Christianity. The missionaries learned the native’s languages in order to facilitate better communication and evangelization. Their first project was to translate the Bible into the native languages. Along the coast translation of the Swahili Bible was inevitable for people to read God’s word in their mother tongue. A little later, the missionaries began to move inward especially after the Scramble for Africa Berlin Conference that divided the African continent to the Europeans in 1844 . Kenya and Uganda were allocated to the British, and a need to construct a railway was inevitable as the Europeans wanted to tap the raw materials that would feed the industrial revolution in Europe. The writer of this paper entails to limit himself to the mission work which was done particularly among the Kikuyu community of central Kenya. Special preference will be focused on the role of Western education which was conducted by missionaries, and how the evangelization and education turned sour after what the kikuyu community termed as oppression, marginalization, segregation, racial prejudice, and forceful eviction from their lands in favor of the colonialist. Early Missionaries in Kikuyu Land

One of the earliest mission stations in the interior of Kikuyu heartland was started by the Church of Scotland Mission in Thogoto. It was actually a transfer of an earlier mission station which had been planted in Kibwezi, but owing to malaria and the man eater lions of the Tzavo, the missionaries decided to look for a more suitable place. The Rev. Thomas Watson led the Scottish Mission to Kikuyu in 1898. By 1899, a mission station had already been built at Thogoto under the name of East African Scottish Mission (CSM). The work of evangelization gained momentum and by 1908, they had started another mission station in Tumutumu in Nyeri. The Roman Catholic Holy Ghost Fathers followed in 1899, the Consolata missionaries in 1902, the American Africa Inland Mission (AIM) in 1901, and the independent Gospel Missionary Society (GMS). Most of the missionaries operated on a more similar: wherever they went, the missionaries sought out the local chief, with whom they made friendship and bargained for land and good will. Then they went ahead and requested to recruit children, initially boys only, for kusoma, the Kiswahili word for reading, which became synonymous with Christianity because the two were inseparable. Religious instruction was their main goal; however it was evident that the missionaries also needed to train these young people there ways of life so that they too can work with them. So they taught them literacy and numeracy as they were essential to the missionaries in realizing the crucial role that these lay readers and lay catechists would to play in the evangelization of their fellow people. Hence, Western-style schools which were referred as mission schools became major channels for both evangelization and propagation of Western culture. The initial converts in the locality were also the socially marginalized who had lost social identity and easily found a new one in Christ. Soon, however, the terrain changed when the benefits of Western-style education began to bear discernible fruits and so the demand for it began to increase. The Stage of Colonial Invasion and Land Acquisition

The First World War introduced Africans into the larger world, when they participated as war “carriers” for the British soldiers. Upon the completion...
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