TOWARDS THE INCULTURATION OF NYERE ZA MWEZI, AN AGIRIAMA FUNERAL RITE, WITH SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO ST. PATRICK ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH IN KILIFI, KENYA
AIRO, RICHARD OOKO
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his study examined the possibilities of inculturating ‘Nyere za Mwezi’, an Agiriama funeral rite with specific reference to Roman Catholic Churchin Kilifi County. The objectives of the study were to; i.) analyze the Agiriama funeral rituals, their symbolic meanings and significance to the community; ii.) examine the Roman Catholic Churchinterpretation of ‘Nyere za mwezi’ anAgiriama funeral ritewith reference to christianity iii.) examine the interlude on Biblical themes on death, and afterlife by analyzing the similarities and differences in light of the Judeo-Christian culture and iv.) examine the opportunities and challenges of inculturating ‘Nyere za mwezi’, an Agiriama funeral rite. The study examined these objectives in light of inculturation paradigm which was integrated with Niebuhr’s missiological model. This intergration gave credence to the view of inculturation being interrelated with incarnation. Therefore, Niebuhr’s missiological model acted as a filter to distinguish those beliefs and practices associated with Agiriama mortuary rites which are in tandem with biblical witness and can be incorporated into Christianity and those incompatible with the Gospel are replaced with Christian rituals. The study utilized both primary and secondary data. Secondary materials such as newspapers, books, journals and articles were read into details to gather important information. The study equally utilized primary sources of information such as oral interviews, histories, story telling and surveys to solicit for relevant information. Through snow ball sampling technique fifty two respondents of Agiriama descent were involved in the study. These include the priests, Agiriama Kaya elders, and Christians in general. Both secondary and primary sources were corroborated with participatory observation in which the researcher attended five funerals to observe ‘Nyere za mwezi’ ritual celebration.From the empirical findings the study established that the aims of the Agiriama Indigenous Religion (AIR) manifest a framework where practioners focus not on graduating forever from this world, but on the image of the ideal after-life in which a vi person enjoys similar status in the after-life. This was manifested on elaborate funeral rites such as ‘Nyere za mwezi’ that were accorded to the dead by the living kinsmen and women.The ritual ceremony of ‘Nyere za mwezi’ was significant to the community as it was practiced for community well-being (uzima wa lalo). It was also an expression of the value of life well lived by the deceased among his/her kins.The study established that the Church cannot ignore such rituals which are so intrinsic to the community, rather it has to provide an hermeneutical framework underwhich the Agiriamapeople can religiously practice their culture.