african violence

Africa Colonialism and Religion: How religion paved the way to Freedom in Kenya.

The Sultan of Zanzibar was the royal head that reigned over Mombasa and the Tanzanian coast. The coast of Eastern Africa was the doorway to colonization and religion such as Islam and Christianity.

It is through religion that rulers were able to slap chains on the ankles and hands of nations.

Slavery is as old as mankind. It dates back to the pre-colonial periods like the biblical times of Egypt and Israel (the book of Exodus), the Vikings and slave trade of Africa and India. Every story has two sides, the victory, and the defeat.


It began with the missionaries who first landed on the East African shores before colonialists came.  With their western medicine and weird guns, they baffled forest dwellers and fishermen at the shores. They called it the White Magic.

Slowly by slowly, the missionaries, with their kind gestures of healing terrible outbreaks within local communities, set their baits. Conversion for medication.

Thus, African tribes had to smash and bury their high places and gods for the white man’s medicine. Their minds were transformed and conformed into a tool the colonialists would dictate their laws into.

Christianity was spread and the locals were made receptive to their colonial masters. By the time William MacKinnon of Britain landed on the shores of Mombasa, high and mighty on his trade ships to make it their Protectorate, every local tribe was in blissful ignorance of what the real mission of religion was. The new religion made them malleable to a forceful takeover.

Religion in freedom and liberty

Religion was a tool of unification.

Maumau (1952-1960)

The Mau Mau was a group of majorly Kikuyu and other ethnic groups that lead a rebellion against the colonialists and their loyalists.

One of the most famous foot soldiers of the Mau Mau was Dedan Kimathi, who died in detention of the British army. It was called the Mau Mau Uprising.

The fighters were bound to fight by oaths which when broken were believed to result into generational curses and death.

The Mau Mau oath was taken by undergoing traditional rituals based on the Kikuyu religion. Their major mission was to take out colonialist and restore the nation as it was pre-colonialism.

Nandi Orkoiyot (1860-1905)

The Nandi, a group in the Kalenjin tribe also had a religious warrior and leader who lead the rebellion against railway building in their region. He was known as Koitalel Arap Samoei and a renowned an Orkoiyot or Orkoik.

The Nandi believes that the Orkoiyot is able to directly communicate with Asis, their God.

The Orkoiyot arise from the Talai clan of the Nandi.

Giriama rebellion

Mekatilili wa Menza a widow, was a Giriama, a coastal tribe of Kenya. She protested the evil acts of the colonialists who grabbed lands from the Giriama people and forced them into labor by the ecstatic dance called kifudu performed only in traditional funeral ceremonies.

With the help of Wanje wa Madorika, the tribe’s medicine man, she led a rebellion against the British. Mekatilili wa Menza held secret meetings with young Giriama colonial rebels in their secret sacred traditional temples called Kaya.

Medicine men were traditional healers who used herbs for treating ailments. They also played as leaders of their tribes and as religious heads who presided over sacred ceremonies.

From these few examples of famous Kenyan heroes and heroines, it is clear that religion was a powerful motivator in the fight against colonialists.

In this present time, religion has played key roles in the awakening of global movements such as Isis, Al Kaida, Boko Haram and the Al Shabaab.


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