The majority of Kenyans place a high value on their religious beliefs. In addition to practicing their faith, many people go to their place of worship to interact with family, and strangers that's why the role of spirituality in Kenyaplays great importance.
Syncretism between local and indigenous beliefs and customs and Christianity is quite prevalent. As a result, religions in Kenya often embrace one another's practices and ideas rather than being mutually exclusive.
Even Kenyans' intense religiosity is evident in the public transit system. Every day, hundreds of city dwellers are transported throughout Nairobi in matatus, the vividly painted commuter vans that are a continuous presence on the city's highways.
They frequently bear prominent taglines like "Got Jesus?" and "God never fails" on them. Spread the gospel rather than the flu, suffer while you can, and, my personal favorite, God is the best.
It is common to hear Christian music in people's personal vehicles as well as in grocery stores, diners, and eateries. Religion is present almost everywhere.
Since 97 percent of Kenyans identify as religious, the statistics that are available highlight the country's high level of religiosity. According to a recent Pew Forum survey, 70% of Kenyans attend weekly religious services, and 82% of respondents say religion is "extremely important" in their lives. Comparatively speaking, only 24% of Americans go to weekly services.
It simply makes sense that development or peacebuilding would be understood within this perspective given how important religion is to Kenyan society'sdaily lives and cultural fabric.
But in different interviews, Kenyan development professionals said that the government and Western development actors don't doa good job of involving religious actors or taking into account the role of religion in development problems.
The Catholic Church says that it runs 28% of the country's elementary schools and more than 30% of its secondary schools, making religious organizations one of Kenya's most tenacious, enduring, and widely present development actors.
A significant network of healthcare facilities is also managed by the Kenya Council of Catholic Bishops and the Christian Health Association of Kenya. But faith actors have an effect on more than just health and education. Groups with a religious mission are involved in almost every part of development.
Because of the historical importance of missionary organizations throughout the colonial era and the limited capabilities of the government in the early post-independence years, churches in particular assumed significant roles in Kenya's development landscape.
The government was under pressure due to the new standards' high demands and the limited (human and financial) resources available.
Churches and other religious organizations expanded their already-existent services to augment them, and they still play important roles today.
However, the government's role has grown as a result of the improvement of national public services, stronger government infrastructure, and more resources.
The demands for strategic focus and coordination in development have risen dramatically in conjunction with a significant number of external actors. Institutions of faith must participate in this "harmonization" process.
Despite significant shifts in perceptions of public and private responsibilities in service delivery, faith actors remain important participants whose efforts and actions deserve more attention than they currently receive. You can see other social analysis of Kenyaculture in Urban Kenyans to understand the differences in lifestyle for every religion in the country.
An estimated 30,000faith-based groups operate in Kenya and carry out various types of development programs through well-established church structures, initiatives from religious leaders, and faith communities. As new programs for public development are made, they can and should use their large networks and first-hand experience.
It makes sense to be cautious about incorporating faith actors in the development discussion when viewed through the prism of Western secular culture. Questions concerning improper proselytizing, aggressive attempts at conversion, and favoring one group over another frequently come to mind.
Even though I have spent my whole academic and professional career studying religion and its contribution to peace and development, I still found myself asking these kinds of questions.
For instance, I was invited to a graduation ceremony while visiting a small public school in the Mathare slum. I agreed since I was excited to participate in some of the school activities. All of the teachers then stood up to deliver brief remarks on the year and advice to the pupils.
I was surprised to hear every teacher begin their speech by praising God or something similar. The ritual also included a prayer from the entire student body at its conclusion. Students at the public school, which had no assigned religion, were split equally between Christians and Muslims.
My sirens for "separation of church and state" went off. My mind started to race with objections to prayer in public schools. But I soon understood that the issue with Western development actors was precisely my reaction. International development strategies are viewed through the prism of our own culture.
Kenyan development professionals frequently told us that Western secularism had influenced Kenyan government policies.
Both secular and religiously inspired development actors discussed the enormous potential that religious leaders and faith communities may offer to address enduring problems such as corruption, high birth rates, gender equality, or ethnic tensions. They think that religious authorities and religious groups are the key in a lot of situations.
A stereotypical, uniform understanding of secularism is certainly unlikely to correspond to Kenyan realities, despite concerns about various parts of religious activity being well-founded. In order to ensure that development projects are properly framed within the Kenyan context, international development actors should be aware of their biases about religion.
More engagement with religious leaders and active discussion of the religious implications of problems like family planning or gender roles are likely to result from this.
African spiritualities must be seen as having their roots in the continent of Africa but also having grown as a result of interactions with people from other nations and continents. The independent or indigenous African churches help a lot with the growth of African Christian spiritualities.
While some religions have embraced a pantheistic viewpoint, the majority adhere to a polytheistic system with a variety of gods, spirits, and other paranormal beings. Fetishism, shamanism, and the adoration of artifacts are also components of traditional African religions.
The local population of Kenya practiced a multitude of traditional tribal faiths before the arrival of Christianity. Monotheism, the conviction that there is only one God, also known as "Ngai" or "Were," was a common practice among each tribe.
Development workers would do well to recognize the important role that faith actors and institutions have played in Kenya's past and present, and to learn from them to build a better future as the government continues to expand and deepen its development activities.