‘Kĩama Kia Athuri’ Rituals, and Challenges to Agikuyu Christians

  • Francis Omondi
Keywords: Rituals, Rites of Passage, Initiation, Agĩkũyũ, Indigenous cultures, Kĩama Kia Athuri


This study examines the Agĩkũyũ Kĩama kia athuri’s (council of elders) initiation rituals to establish whether they are religious acts of worship and therefore undermine Christianity, as has been claimed by Agĩkũyũ church leaders. To analyse the Kĩama (council) movement, this research applied four steps and used criteria advanced by Arnold van Gennep’s Rites of Passage and Victor Turner’s ‘Rituals’ to evaluate the Kĩama’s ceremonies. On the question of sacrifices and offerings, the research revealed that the shedding of animal blood was not unique to the Kĩama ceremonies but occurred without question in other events in the Agĩkũyũ lives, like in marriage. The study determined that the rituals were rites of passage for the Agĩkũyũ men into varying degrees of eldership. It established a yearning to return to the Agĩkũyũ customs disrupted by colonialism and the coming of Christianity. This study identified political rather than religious motifs in the resurgence of the Kĩama kia athuri, purporting to protect Agĩkũyũ’s political and economic interests. But this would undermine Christianity as well.



Author Biography

Francis Omondi

The author is a Lecturer at South Africa Theological Seminary, Adjunct Lecturer at St. Paul’s University Limuru, and a Research Tutor at the Oxford Centre for Religious and Public Life. He is a member of the Society of Practical Theologians of South Africa. Priest of All Saints Cathedral Diocese of the ACK, a Canon of the All-Saints Kampala Cathedral of the Church of Uganda.