Maasai Diviners and Christianity
An Investigation of Three Different Clans of IlÓibonok in Tanzania and the Attitude of the Lutheran Church towards Them
Author: Christel Kiel. Series edited by: Archiv und Museumsstiftung der VEM, Wuppertal.
Series: Mission – Past and Present Volume 112015
12 pp. Roman, 146 pp.
1 map, 10 colour photos, 2 b/w photos, glossary
Text language(s): English
Format: 160 x 240 mm
The different local diviners of the Maa speaking societies in Eastern Africa are called IlÓibonok. Being mediators between the visible and the invisible in the past, present and future of their clients' life, they are regarded with reverence and some feeling of awe, but also of fear. They were always strangers, ethnically and traditionally and in the beginning the Christian missionaries regarded them as sorcerers and demon-ridden people who tried to keep the Gospel from the Maasai or the Maasai from the Gospel. Until the end of the 20th century they had a certain – maybe diminishing – influence. How did the Christians of the Lutheran Church see them? How did these diviners regard Christianity after it had been proved that the foreign religion was not just a passing fad? These two questions are considered in this work.
The author first got the idea for research about Maasai diviners and their relation to the Christian church while she worked on the history of the Maasai mission in the North Eastern Diocese of the Lutheran Church of Tanzania and noticed that the relation of the church and the diviners hitherto had not been scrutinized, although Christian pastors were expected to fulfil some of the functions IlÓibonok had performed before Christianity came.
Part One informs about the IlÓibonok clans present in Tanzania, the work they did until 1999 and the members of the Tilián clan the author met personally. Part Two gives a general overview about the work of then present IlÓibonok. Part Three examines history concerning the encounter of missionaries with diviners and tries to give an impression of the attitude of 20th century Christians toward them. Another chapter tries to find biblically based criteria for the relation and eventual cooperation between Christians and the diviners practising within the boundaries of certain parishes.
In our programme, a comprehensive bibliography on Maasai language and culture has been published, see the following link:
Insgesamt gibt die 146-seitige Abhandlung, die in der Reihe der VEM-Archiv- und Museumsstiftung erschienen ist, einen ertragreichen Überblick über ein traditionales Element tansanischer Kultur- und Religionsgeschichte, welches „vom Aussterben bedroht ist“. Hier liegt der Schatz dieser kleinen Studie verborgen, dass solche Fallbeispiele für anthropologisch, ethnologisch und religions- wie missionswissenschaftlich interessierte Personen nicht mehr lange anzutreffen sind. Zudem sammelt Kiel in ihren bibliographischen Angaben die maßgebenden Publikationen zum Thema. Für fachlich Interessierte durchaus eine hilfreiche Lektüre.
Benjamin Simon in Zeitschrift für Missionswissenschaft, 1-2/2017, pp. 122-124
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