Intermediate program on African Cultures and Religion

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

Program Prerequisite
Introduction to African cultures and religion program and a minimum of three months in the field, or have taken a full course and are returning for updating and renewal

Program Description:
This program covers selected African themes and beliefs and how they are expressed in contemporary culture. Topics include family lineage, moral teachings, and economic structures.

Students develop 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. Analyze field research data

  5. Understand contemporary cultural realities, practices and beliefs of African societies


Day One: African Lineage

  • Lineal family structures of Africa

  • Roles and responsibilities of the members of the lineage

  • Place of the lineage in Africa today

Field Research Task for the day: Visit a family and research its structures

Day Two: Moral teachings pf African Religion

  • Moral formation in Africa

  • Moral and ethical problems in contemporary Africa

  • Impact of new religions (e.g. Christianity and Islam), Westernization and education on morality in Africa

Field Research Task for the day: Interview an elder on proper moral behavior in their community

Day Three: Contemporary Economic Realities 

  • Globalization and national political economy

  • The effects of the World Bank and IMF on Kenya’s development

  • The economic effects of Kenya’s relationship with foreign companies and nations

Field Research Task for the day: Research a local development project 


Kirwen , M. C. (2010). African Cultural Domains: Cycle of Family and Interpersonal Relationships. Nairobi: MIAS Books

____________ (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.

Magesa. Laurenti. (1997). African Religion: The Moral Traditions of Abundant Life. New York: Orbis Books.

Mshomba. R. E. (2000). Africa in the Global Economy. Boulder, Columbia: Lynne Rienner Publishers

Other readings as assigned by the lecturer.

One Credit Course Application Forms