Religion Among The Taita In Kenya History Essay

The intent of this Historical Investigation will be to set up “ to what extent the missionaries and the colonialists changed or influenced the Socio-Economic organisation of the Taita People in Kenya up to 1950 ” and in what ways it may hold had an impact, on the community ‘s cultural beliefs and patterns.

This inquiry will be answered utilizing the undermentioned texts as the chief beginnings of grounds and other beginnings encountered during the probe.

Kenya Ethnic Communities: Foundation of a Nation – Mr. Wanguhu Ng’ang’a.

Projecting out Anger: Religion among the Taita in Kenya – Grace Gredys Harris.

I intend on replying the research inquiry with the above beginnings, by reading and pull outing certain information from them that give us an penetration to exactly how the missionaries and colonialists influenced the Taita socio-economic administration.

Then, I will analyze the beginnings, peculiarly facets on faith, civilization & A ; tradition and economic activities, particularly concentrating on the alterations that existthat were to a great extent influenced by the missionaries and colonialists.

Subsequently, I will utilize general information from my relatives- my Dendranthema grandifloruom and my uncle who are members of the Taita community to associate my research to.

Finally, I will reason utilizing the information I have gathered and see whether or non the missional visits can be deemed as successful and impactful.

Section B: Summary OF EVIDENCE

Before the missional and colonial influence in the Taita community, there was no mark of Christianity, Islam or any other universe renowned faith. The Taita strongly believed in a batch of what in today ‘s universe would be known as witchery which was a strong foundation of their cultural and traditional beliefs. When the colonialists and missionaries arrived, most of whom were Christians, preached to the locals, built churches and had priests posted to Taita to work at that place.

Most of the missionaries were Catholic and Anglican and until today, they are still the most dominant in the part. Taita being rather near to Mombasa town, where the Swahili reside, there was besides a small Muslim influence from the interaction of the Swahili with the Arabs.

Today, most of the Taitas, including those who do non populate in the part itself are Christians and this can be attributed to the missional activities between the late 1800 ‘s and the early 1900 ‘s.

The Socio- Economic effects of the missionaries in Taita chiefly affected their spiritual beliefs which so were chiefly traditional and cultural. Sing as distributing the Christian faith was the chief aim of the European missionaries, with clip

Section C: Evaluation OF Beginnings:

As I had stated in the Plan of Investigation, below are the beginnings my probe will be based on:

Kenya Ethnic Communities: Foundation of a Nation -Chapter 4: Eastern Bantu Communities ( Wataita ) – Mr. Wanguhu Ng’ang’a.[ 1 ]

Projecting out Anger: Religion among the Taita in Kenya – Grace Gredys Harris.[ 2 ]

The first piece of grounds intend on utilizing for this probe is an infusion from chapter 4 of the book Kenya Ethnic Communities: Foundation of the Nation which focuses on the Kenyan Coastal Communities. This infusion is specifically on the Social and Political Organisation of the Taita people before colonial and missional influence among the communities. It

The 2nd piece of grounds I intend on utilizing is yet another infusion from the book projecting out Anger: Religion among the Taita people in Kenya written by Grace Gredys Harris which fundamentally outlines the organisation of the Taitas before any colonial or missional influence in the part.

Beginning 1: Kenya Ethnic Communities: Foundation of a Nation -Chapter 4: Eastern Bantu Communities ( Wataita ) – Mr. Wanguhu Ng’ang’a.

This beginning is written by many writers and specializers in assorted Kenyan Ethnic communities with the chief intent of instruction. It was published in July 2008 and it comprises of eight volumes in one.

The book was written to educate the Kenyan people and the remainder of the universe on the Socio-Economic and Political organisation of the Kenyan communities and for research workers to understand the assorted Cultural communities. It besides gives some historical penetration into where many of the communities migrated from.

The value of this book where this beginning is extracted from is that it is enlightening and trusty because in comparing to other beginnings I have read and members of the Taita community I have interviewed, the information is more or less organisation same. The beginning is besides of great value in the sense that it gives a elaborate account of the Socio-Economic administration of the Taita people before missional influence.

However utile it may be, the beginning does non province precisely how the missionaries did their work or managed to convert the community out of their cultural and traditional beliefs into Christianity. It besides does non speak about the other faiths that may hold existed at the clip. This beginning does non give a elaborate history of faith in relation to missional influence in the part at the clip, but instead gives more information of the Social construction, being household life and construction in the community in the early 1900 ‘s.

Beginning 2: Projecting out Anger: Religion among the Taita in Kenya – Grace Gredys Harris.

This text book Projecting Out Anger: Religion Among the Taita People by Grace Gredys Harris who was a British Anthropologist who focused her survey on the Taita people while she was a lector in the University of Rochester. The book was published in by the Cambridge Press.

The intent of this book is to give penetration and information on the Taita people and more specifically faith in relation to military influence in the early 1900 ‘s.

It is really elaborate and enlightening in that, it gives a elaborate history on the missional influence in the Coast between the 19th and twentieth century. As the rubric suggests, the beginning does non province much about the other facets of Socio-Economic administration, at least non every bit much as the first beginning does. It merely gives an history on the spiritual influence and activity in the part.

This subdivision of my probe besides seeks to compare and contrast the beginnings though measuring their Beginning, Value, Purpose and Limitations.

Beginning 1: Kenya Ethnic Communities: Foundation of a Nation -Chapter 4: Eastern Bantu Communities ( Wataita ) – Mr. Wanguhu Ng’ang’a.

This beginning chiefly focuses in the societal facet and effects of colonialism on the Taita people and does non province much on the spiritual influence. From what the beginnings say and the interviews I conducted, there has non been much alteration in the societal administration, given that they still conduct the chief activities they had been carry oning since the nineteenth century. These activities are chiefly farming. The lone difference now, in the twenty-first century is that the harvests they farm are non used as household provender merely but instead sold to major markets as hard currency harvests. This has become one of the Taita people ‘s chief beginning of income. The chief ground for this is that, Kenya is still an LEDC ( Less Economically Developed Country ) so, most of the state ‘s income is non every bit industrial as more developed states and there is still heavy trust on primary activities as a beginning of income across the state, non merely with the Taita.

Taita is a really sloppy and cragged part which about works to their disadvantage because they are unable to farm some of the harvests that have a high aggregative demand. The chief hard currency harvests which are farmed in this part are cassavas and other bass horn, bananas and chiefly sisal which is used for doing traditional baskets and trays.

The colonialists taught the Taita community how to tap into their natural resources and do a populating out of them through big graduated table agriculture and by extension, trade.

This beginning besides highlights the family structures, particularly of married households, which for people who still live in the part has n’t alterations much. Salvage for the technology of the houses which were huts made of prohibitionists banana foliages, grass and wood or/ and clay to lapidate houses.

Beginning 2: Projecting out Anger: Religion among the Taita in Kenya – Grace Gredys Harris.

Unlike the first beginning, the 2nd beginning concentrates more on the spiritual influence by missionaries and less on the societal construction. The first beginning Tells us that the first brush the Taita ‘s had with the missionaries was with the Irish Catholic priests and much later, the Anglican missionaries. From other beginnings which focus on general missional influence in Africa, this was done in concurrence with the colonialists. This was hard turn outing to the linguistic communication barrier with most of the locals talking either Kitaita or Kiswahili. This was bridged by the missionaries who had to larn Kiswahili to pass on with the locals. When Christianity was introduced, the locals had to detach themselves from their cultural and traditional beliefs in which they were engrossed and they started go toing mass and church services and believing in God instead than their traditional Gods. Over clip, the locals gave up their traditional beliefs, so much so that now, the traditional beliefs died and are non practiced any longer with bulk of the Taita population being Christians and the minority being Other faiths such as Islam. Another restriction this beginning may supply is the facet of the author being Caucasic therefore she may hold encountered troubles while transporting out her research such as linguistic communication barriers and limited first-hand cognition of the Taita civilization. This claim may be counter balanced by the fact that she was highly learned and focused most of her survey on faith among the Taita.

Section D: Analysis OF EVIDENCE.

This subdivision of this probe seeks to analyze the state of affairs before the missionaries arrived at the Kenyan seashore, in footings of civilization and tradition i.e. what the locals used to pattern and what they believed in both socially and sacredly.


Before the missionaries arrived in Native Taita, there were no marks of faith in relation to what it is known as today, that being chiefly Christianity.

For one, the cultural foundation was at its extremum visual perception as there was really small if any intervention at all with the other communities, even the neighbouring 1s with whom they portions many cultural beliefs and patterns. Before doing a decision on the findings of my historical probe, it may be necessary to see why it may hold been so easy for missionaries to distribute faith through many African provinces, particularly the Taita and research some of their cultural values and beliefs during this clip.

The Taita are said to hold migrated from Central Africa along with many other Bantu folks and finally settled in the beautiful and fertile Taita hills in Southern Kenya.

There are three of import facets of Taita civilization and they are:

– Male Circumcision

– Death

– Music and Dance

Male Circumcision is a performed on all male childs between 7 and 11 old ages of age and this was considered to be developing for them because it was assumed that at that age, they were ready for maturity after the Circumcision which was non merely the act of circumcising but it involved mentorship by older individuals, more frequently than non, uncles would make the mentorship.

Death was considered sacred by the Taita. It was believed that when one dies, they should be buried merely for a twelvemonth after which their organic structures should be exhumed and the skull detached from the remainder of the organic structure to be taken to a sacred cave. This rite was considered to be a mark of regard accorded to the deceased. The organic structures were taken to the cave so that the deceased may hold their “ proper ” residence with the ascendants[ 3 ].

Last, the other of import facet of Taita civilization and tradition was music. Music was considered really of import and it was frequently symbolism for jubilation and exultation. Equally much as there were many types of dance which applied to different jubilations, the most popular one is known as the pepo ( Spirit ) ownership dance which in Kitaita ( The linguistic communication the Taitas speak ) is known as Mwazindika. The other traditions have since died away and non much is known about them.

The faith among the Taita before missional influence revolved around the liquors of the ascendants. 3 These liquors and Gods were called upon when either something truly bad happened or something good happened. For case, when the land was sterile or when there has been rainfall and there is sufficient nutrient.

The economic activities of the Taita people revolved around agriculture and this is because there Taita hills were and still are really fertile therefore giving the Taita people an advantage over other communities because they did non hold to prosecute in trading activities to supply nutrient for themselves. Before development and enlightenment of the locals, there was limited agriculture in the sense that, as compared to today, there was really small 1 could make with land and this owes to development over clip which may hold begun with both missional and colonial activity. The chief nutrients consisted of bananas, Cucurbita pepos, manioc, beans, Sweet murphies, black-eyed peas, and millet.3These nutrients, to day of the month do up some of the Taita peoples basic and traditional repasts.


It is said that one of the grounds it was really easy for missionaries to “ alter ” the Taitas cultural beliefs is because the Taitas do non hold s structured society, it is really loose and that made it easier for Western civilization be instilled in them.

The missionaries arrived at the Kenyan Coast in the 1850 ‘s. The first missionaries to get in Taita were the Holy Ghost Fathers from the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church. They built mission Stationss at Bura and Wusi, built by the Holy Ghost male parents of the Catholic Church.[ 4 ]Equally much as the missionaries may hold encountered jobs such as linguistic communication barriers and limited cognition of Taita civilization so it made it about hard for thrm to cognize which manner to near the locals.

As it may hold taken long for the passage to take topographic point, it still happened. Colonialism played a large function in rushing up the transmutation and the development procedure.

Section Tocopherol: Decision:

In decision, the missionaries and colonialists had a great impact on the Taita people of Kenya particularly since they brought many positive alterations to the part therefore it was reasonably easy for them to successfully present Christianity to the part. Besides, it took them a piece to convert the locals out of their beliefs which they had believed in for a long piece, since their colony in the state. The missionaries began their work circa 1840 and it continued until around the 1950 ‘s, before the state got independence. Equally much as this was a great alteration in the state, it had its disadvantages because the Taita people lost many of their cultural values and today, many of the Taita people, particularly those who do non populate in the part have about no hint on what used their ascendants used to believe in and pattern. Their dressing, farming accomplishments, eating wonts, spiritual positions and traditions are merely but a few of the things that have evolved over clip and go more western oriented.

Their major harvest, which was and still is sisal, was used so to do baskets but since there is really small usage for the baskets these yearss, it is sold to do paper.

Finally, the colonialists and the missionaries helped a great trade in developing and exposing the Taita ‘s to more modern patterns and ways of life life which have helped and are still assisting them in their twenty-four hours to twenty-four hours societal and Economic administration.

Section D: Bibliography:

Kenya Ethnic Communities: Foundation of a Nation- Mr. Wanguhu Ng’ang’a.http: // & A ; downloads/Chapter % 20Four.pdf on 13th July 2012 at 05.07am

Cambridge University Press

978-0-521-04084-6 – Projecting out Anger: Religion among the Taita of Kenya

Grace Gredys Harris. Published in 1986. at 09.25 am on 9th July 2012 at 7.53pm on 21st July 2012 at 7.18pm on 21st July 2012 at 6.26pm on 21st July 2012 at 09.08 am on 9th July 2012