culture and customs
family life
social change

social relationships

introducing the area

spiritual beliefs

 quotes about spiritual beliefs
 key testimonies featuring spiritual beliefs

church in KenyaA number of narrators talk of the spiritual significance of Mount Elgon, and how many associate God with certain special areas or features, and especially the highest and least accessible places: ".the most unique places in Mount Elgon are very specific areas which people adore and worship.. Our people worship God.. We associate Yien (God) with the highest place.even in the blue sky. That is why the upper part of the mountain, which a normal human being can not easily reach, is where we think Yien stays." So the concept of a Creator, say some, was not something introduced to them by missionaries. In fact, the role of the Christian Church is more frequently discussed in terms how it brought development to the area, and particularly education.

The first schools were set up by missionaries. ".at the time Christianity was introduced, it was going hand in hand with education, which cost money", explained one man. "My father .did not want to spend his resources on things that he did not believe in. Therefore he did not give me the opportunity of going to school or church. Later on when I grew up, it was like I was too late..Christianity is something I have just been watching from the sidelines." (Kenya 13) . Others did embrace Christianity - enough, perhaps, to cause others to fear its influence: "the coming of the church was seen as an agent of destroying...[Sabaot] culture" (Kenya 1) .

It was true that leaders of the church opposed many of the old traditions, such as female circumcision, polygamy and beer brewing. However, it seems many narrators managed to encompass Christianity along with Sabaot traditional culture: "Now we mix because on one hand, in Christ, we are there. And traditionally, we are there" (Kenya 8) . One or two narrators mention that the Catholic church is more lenient towards traditional customs, and that this is why "you find that the Catholic Church has a lot of following, because they allow...a lot of traditional practices".

quotes about spiritual beliefs

" Before the coming of the Bible, the Sabaot still worshipped the creator....This is an indication that we knew God before the coming of Christianity."
Samuel, M/90, Kenya 15

"I must admit that a great majority of the Sabaot people even up to now, have not accepted Christianity. The Sabaot had their own way of worship, which used the dead forefathers as mediators between the living and their God. Therefore, to many, the white man's religion was unnecessary.What I'm saying is that, people would listen to the preaching in the church, but they would not change their way of doing things at home. They would continue with the offerings to their God, drinking the traditional brew, and even continued to circumcise their daughters - something the Christian religion was condemning. Therefore although education was resisted, it wasn't resisted as much as Christianity, because Christianity was listing many things, which were close to the hearts of Sabaot, as evil.This kind of criticism was seen by many Sabaot as an affront to their way of life."
Hezron, M/48, village elder, Kenya 14

"We believed our god lived in the sun. In the morning when the sun was rising, we would spit towards the east, asking god to take care of us. Also when we sacrificed, we used to spit blood towards the rising sun for God to accept our sacrifice."
Jackson, M/60, farmer, Kenya 20

"...the peak of the mountain is associated with a supreme being, as this is where it is most likely to be inhabiting. "
Wycliffe, M/37, schools inspector, Kenya 19

key testimonies featuring spiritual beliefs

  No.   Name   Sex/Age   Occupation   Location  
Summary Transcript   1   Lydia   Female/24   Teacher     
Summary Transcript   13   Joseph    Male/86   Former pastoralist now a farmer     
Summary Transcript   17   Silbabel   Male/90s   Former preacher and religious teacher     
Summary Transcript   20   Jackson   Male/60   Farmer   Kibuk  
Summary Transcript   5   Beatrice   Female/53   Retired headmistress   Kapsokwony