Advanced program on African Cultures and Religion

Dates/ Hours
By arrangement with participants (minimum of three students) 15 contact hours

Program Prerequisite
Intermediate program on African cultures and religion and a minimum of three months in the field following the intermediate program, or have taken a full course and are returning for updating and renewal.

Program Description:
This program covers selected African themes that are different and more focused than those of the intermediate program and illustrates how they are expressed in contemporary cultures. Topics include Ancestors, the notion of evil and political leadership.

Students refine their field research techniques and analytical skills, assisted by trained Kenyan University graduates who function as personal assistants in the field.

Student Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of this program, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Synthesize information and knowledge regarding three aspects of African culture

  2. Design and carry out field research

  3. Articulate and record field research findings

  4. Do thematic analysis of the field data

  5. Relate the three themes to contemporary African societies


Day One: Ancestors

  • Qualities for ancestorhood in Africa

  • Role and place of ancestors in Africa

  • Ancestors and Christianity/Islam

Field Research Task for the day: Interview elders on their relationship with the living dead and ancestors

Day Two: Witch: The Problem of evil 

  • Concept of evil in Africa

  • The witch and witchcraft

  • Expiation of evil

Field Research Task for the day: Interview a Diviner on the source of evil and misfortunes 

Day Three: Leadership in Contemporary political realities  

  • Political leadership

  • Democracy and multiparty politics in Africa

  • Transitional politics

Field Research Task for the day: Interview a political leader, e.g., a chief, councilor, governor, or member of parliament  


Ayyitey, G. B. N. (1999). Africa in Chaos. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin

Kirwen , M. C. (2008). African Cultural Domains: Life Cycle of an Individual: Nairobi: MIAS Books.

_____________ (2005). African Cultural Knowledge: Themes and Embedded Beliefs. Nairobi: MIAS Books

Magesa, Laurenti. (2004). Anatomy of Inculturation . Nairobi” Paulines Publications.

Rainer, S. D.B.  (1990). Political Stability and development: A comparative analysis of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Other readings as assigned by the lecturer.

One Credit Course Application Forms