chapter  7
19 Pages

Religious tribalism, local morality and violence in Christian Kenya

WithYonatan N. Gez, Yvan Droz, Hervé Maupeu

In this chapter, the authors analyze several historical and thematic points of confluence between religion and violence in Kenya, focusing primarily on the country’s large Christian majority. They recognize that the religious sphere can be considered both a repertoire of symbolic action, which inscribes meaning and structure into worldly chaos, and a concrete guide for sociopolitical behaviour among believers loyal to this cosmic depiction. The authors employ the notion of religious butinage – a biological reference to the practice of pollination, which they use metaphorically to point at everyday religious mobility – in order to designate the various forms of multidirectional, interdenominational mobility common in Kenya. Despite this distinction, the authors emphasize that forms of violence are closely interrelated, and that psychological violence may translate into physical, political violence – and vice versa, when political violence turns to religion in search of symbolic justification.