Original Research - Special Collection: Social Memory Studies

Legacies and pitfalls amongst the African Evangelicals: A Kenyan experience from a historical perspective

Julius M. Gathogo
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 3 | a6767 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i3.6767 | © 2022 Julius M. Gathogo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 April 2021 | Published: 11 January 2022

About the author(s)

Julius M. Gathogo, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa; Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Faculty of Humanities, Kenyatta University, Mombasa, Kenya; Faculty of Theology, ANCCI, Amarillo, TX, United States


The research study sets out to explore the contribution of the African Evangelicals in both the colonial and post-colonial Kenya to the social lives of the nation. Can’t it be viewed as a positive social influence or an ecclesiastical pitfall? In utilising a socio-historical design, it poses the question: how did the Evangelical European Missionaries demonstrate their theological and social influences in Kenya, and how did the post-missionary Evangelical-leaning leaderships play out? And was Muthirigu Dance an extremist reaction against the rigidity of the Evangelicals? Methodologically, this article will attempt to explore the Evangelical European Missionary Christianity, especially the Church Missionary Society that entered Central Kenya in the early 1900s, and assess the way in which they handled indigenous cultures of the local Africans. It has also attempted to critically explore their social influences in both colonial and post-colonial Kenya (1895–2021). The CMS has been given more emphasis in this article as an Evangelical society so as to help in bringing out the specific Evangelical activities in the Kirinyaga County of Kenya. Overall, the article has endeavoured to hypothesise that Eurocentrism was not the Evangelical problem, as there were diverse European missionaries, such as the High Anglican Church, the Roman Catholic and the Lutherans who were non-Evangelicals, and who were not necessarily dogmatic and rigid.

Contribution: This study adhered to the HTS journal’s vision and scope by its focus on the histories of the Evangelical European Missionaries of the 19th and 20th centuries, their interactions with the local religio-cultures, and how it later played out amongst the Africans.


legacies and pitfalls amongst African Evangelicals; Evangelical European Missionaries; Chief Njega wa Gioko; Muthirigu dance; Moi and Chiluba’s leaderships


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Crossref Citations

1. John Mbiti’s Ubuntu Theology: Was it Rooted in his African heritage?
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