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Abstract

Night-runners are perceived as faceless, evil people who run naked in the darkness, thereby wreaking havoc in otherwise peaceful rural villages. This paper investigates the origins of night-running, the mysteries associated with it, the benefits and harms of night-running, and the impact of indigenous knowledge (IK) stigmatisation on this practice. Indigenous knowledge is the body of unique beliefs, attitudes, skills, and practices possessed by communities in a specific geographic setting. In spite of its potential value, scholars point out that indigenous knowledge has been neglected, vindicated, stigmatised, legalised, and suppressed among the majority of the world’s communities due to ignorance and arrogance. Night-running is one of the indigenous practices in Western Kenya that has been stigmatised. Given this, little is actually known about night-running. This study was designed as an ethnographic research through which the views of the residents of Homa Bay County on night-running were investigated, collated, and interpreted as a means of demystifying this indigenous practice. The findings of the study indicate that night-running is intrinsically a harmless practice. However, evil persons such as witches sometimes masquerade as night-runners and can hurt or kill people.

In: Journal of Religion in Africa
The Journal of Religion in Africa, founded in 1967 by Andrew Walls, is interested in all religious traditions and all their forms, in every part of Africa, and it is open to every methodology. Its contributors include scholars working in history, anthropology, sociology, political science, missiology, literature and related disciplines. It occasionally publishes religious texts in their original African language.

Presenting a unique forum for the debate of theoretical issues in the analysis of African religion past and present, the Journal of Religion in Africa also encourages the development of new methodologies. It reviews a very wide range of books and regularly publishes longer review articles on works of special interest. It prides itself on being highly international and is the only English-language journal dedicated to the study of religion and ritual throughout Africa. In an effort to highlight emerging themes in the study of religion in Africa, and promote the outstanding work of younger scholars, it regularly publishes special issues on current topics.

European Science Foundation Ranking A.

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