The Transformation of the Religious thought of the Pokot of Northwestern Kenya, c.1800–1900

In: Journal of Religion in Africa
Karani Shiyuka Department of History, Archaeology and Political Studies, Kenyatta University Nairobi Kenia

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Historical studies have indicated that African religions, in the pre-colonial period, were dynamic and multilayered with long histories of contradictions, contestations, and synthesis. Using the Pokot of north-western Kenya as a case in point, this contribution attempts to demonstrate the fluidity that was inherent in African religions. The Pokot originally were an agro-pastoral group inhabiting the Cherang’any and the Sekerr ranges. During the first half of the nineteenth century, a section of them descended the hills to pursue pastoralism. In their pastoral excursions, they came into contact with Plain Nilotes, especially the Karimojong. What followed was cross-cultural bartering of religious artefacts, both ideological and material, in which process the Pokot adopted selected religious aspects from the Karimojong and fused them with their previous beliefs to formulate syncretism. This contribution not only highlights the religious concepts that were fused but, also, attempts to explain the process of fusion itself.

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