by Amos Masaba Akunda
Submitted in fulfilment if the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Theology
In the subject of Missiology at the University of South Africa.
Photo from here
Orthodox Christianity came to the Banyore people of western Kenya in 1942. The Banyore are Bantu speaking people whose language belongs to the Luhya group of languages. The Banyore live near the Uganda border; they are thought to be related to the famous Uganda Kingdom of Bunyoro Kitara. The first Christian missionaries among the Banyore were Protestants who came from South Africa in 1905.
The Orthodox faith reached Bunyore in 1942, through a Kenyan missionary from central Kenya, Bishop George (Arthur) Gathuna, and Fr Obadiah from Uganda.
The point of note here is that the first Orthodox Christian missionaries to introduce the Orthodox Christian faith to the Banyore people were Kenyans. I shall examine the relation between Orthodox Christianity and Banyore culture, and show how Orthodox Christianity, in dialogue with the Banyore people, became indigenised in Bunyore culture.
Thus Orthodox Christians in Bunyore do not see Orthodoxy as something foreign, but as something that has become part of their own culture.
This thesis examines the fact that the growth and acceptance of the Orthodox Church of Kenya among the Banyore people was a result of the Church’s willingness to accept and accommodate the local Banyore culture, to make some of the culture part of the church’s life. The willingness of the Banyore people to become part of the Orthodox Church of Kenya was solely based on the fact that Orthodox Christianity, which was regarded as a foreign religion, was embraced Bunyore local culture.
The dialogue between the local culture of the Banyore people of western Kenya and the African Orthodox Church of Kenya is the means that was used to bring the two sides together. It seeks to explicate how the dialogue led to the easy spread of Orthodoxy among the Africans of Kenya, how the ecclesiological and christological message of salvation was reconciled with the local culture to bring salvation and redemption to the people of this culture.
I shall also explain how the Orthodox Church found an already-prepared home within African tradition, culture and ethos. It will show that African people fell in love with the Orthodox Church because of the Orthopraxia, Orthodoxia, and Orthokoinonia within its life. In this connection I have tried to explain Orthodox spirituality, especially the reflection of Orthodox liturgical praxis in Banyore cultural practices.
I have further tried to explain what spirituality and Orthodoxy is, and who the Banyore are. The introduction to the Banyore people springs from their place of
origin before their migration to western Kenya.
The aim of this thesis is to underline the fact that spirituality existed within African people (Banyore) before western missionaries arrived, and it is only through the careful dialogue between the mission churches and the host cultures that the truth of what is spiritual and what is not among the local people will come out, and hence mark out a very strong, harmonious ground for missionary work.
I acknowledge that there are some negative elements in Banyore culture that cannot be compatible with Orthodox Christianity but in this case I will only discuss the positive elements of Banyore culture which led the Banyore to accept Orthodox Christianity.
You can read the whole book here.
The Orthodox Church in Kenya & the Orthodox Patriarchal Ecclesiastical School of Makarios III
Orthodox Kenya (tag)
Hope for the Kikuyu (Kenya) / "The caves along the Tana River became the refuge for freedom fighters..."
Natives Africans bishops in the Orthodox Church
An Orthodox Christian parish in Turkana desert
Eight principal areas of convergence between African spirituality and Ancient Christianity
Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa (& the Decolonization of Africa)
African Initiated Churches in Search of Orthodoxy...
"THE WAY" - An Introduction to the Orthodox Faith
Theosis (deification): The True Purpose of Human Life
The god called “Earth”