Aspects of the religion of the Gikuyu of central Kenya before and after the European contact, with special reference to prayer and sacrifice
An investigation of Gikuyu social organisation, ritual and cosmology reveals that prayer and sacrifice form a central phenomenon in Gikuyu religion. Traditionally the occasion and place to perform a sacrifice were both decided upon by njama (sacrificial council of elders). Any sacrificial decision was always a corporate one. Without a corporate decision in favour of sacrifice it meant that no family, territorial or general social prayers activity would have taken place. This work is therefore concerned to demonstrate how with the erosion and change of Gikuyu social infrastructure within which corporate sacrificial and prayer decisions were made and exercised, sacrifice and prayer have been adapted in Gikuyu christianity. There were different types of prayer as well as different occasions and a variety of reasons dictating when, where and why a specific prayer was necessary. Certain prayers, mainly family or social ones had specific persons allowed to say them. Predominantly men said all public or family prayers and offered sacrifices. Prayer and sacrifice were integral aspects of each other. An effort is made to present the relation between Gikuyu traditional religion and prayer practice and Gikuyu Christianity practice of prayer. An attempt is made at a broader definition and deeper description of Gikuyu sacrifices. This is done with reference to biblical sacrifices as well as some other African societies.