The impact of the church on the development of the identity of an African Christian woman : a case study of the Anglican Church of Kenya, Diocese of Kirinyaga, 1910-1999.
This study focuses on the contribution of the church to the development ofthe identity of a Gikuyu woman. Opposition to the suppression of women by culture has become a strong social, political and religious conviction. There is a growing number of men and women in Africa who are concerned about the marginal status of women. In traditional African society, the experience of women was that of subjugation, exploitation and control by men. These experiences are persistent even today because most African cultures are still patriarchal. This study therefore seeks to establish and evaluate how far the church has liberated a Gikuyu woman from such unjust patriarchal conditionings. The study was undertaken in ACK Kirinyaga diocese and concentrated mainly on Kirinyaga district in the period between 1910- I999. Among other factors, the study was undertaken as a contribution to the search for the identity of an African Christian by African theologians. The first chapter introduces the whole thesis and gives a clear explanation of the problem of investigation and the methodology used. Chapter two investigates the status of women in Gikuyu traditional institutions. The chapter concludes that although women held some important roles in Gikuyu traditional society, to a great extent their identity was defined in terms oftheir reproductive roles. Chapter three evaluates the impact of colonialism and Mission Christianity on the status of a Gikuyu woman. We observed that this era had both destructive and regenerative effects on the status of women. Chapter four evaluates the different ways in which women have been involved in church life. It singles out the ordination of women as the greatest effort that Kirinyaga diocese has made on emancipation of women. Chapter five searches for an evidence of the biblical meaning of the identity of a Christian woman, evaluating the place of women in selected controversial biblical passages. Chapter six is the conclusion and sums up the main findings of the study. It also points out that the study is not exhaustive; much more still requires to be researched in this area.