Religion

There are many instances of both traditional religion and Christianity in the text. At first, Africans believe in traditional religion, which is seen in most of their activities. For example, they believe in Great Were, god of the eye of the rising sun who created Ramogi, the father of the tribe.

When Akoko is blamed for not getting many children, she says that giving of children is in the hands of Were. Akoko and the others believe that whatever Were decides to do cannot be questioned. They also believe that the spirits of the dead can affect the living. For example, when the baby Akoko cries for days, her grandmother, calls on the spirits of the dead to quiet her. The spirits are also consulted before the naming of a child.

The white man comes with a new religion called Christianity. Africans find it amusing that the new god has a son who dies for other people and only the lazy, the foot loose and the desperate Africans like Nyabera are converted. Nyabera finds peace at Aluor Mission, where everybody is welcome regardless of their clan or background. She learns the ways of the new faith and is, eventually, baptized as Maria.

Maria goes back home and returns to Aluor Mission with Akoko, Awiti and Owuor Sino. Awiti becomes Sacrista, assisting the nuns, while Owuor becomes an altar boy. Many years later, Owuor ascends to become priest and then Bishop of Kisumu.

Awiti’s children are affected by the new religion. Tony, joins Owuor in priesthood while Vera, becomes a non-marrying member of the Opus Dei despite having a degree in Electronic Engineering.

Even Wandia, who is not religious at first, turns to Christianity when she discovers that even the advances in medicine cannot help her son, Daniel, who suffers from Downs Syndrome.

 Discussion points

  • Are Mark and Elizabeth religious? Give reasons for your answer.
  • What role does religion play in society?
  • What are some of the differences/similarities between traditional African religion and Christianity?
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