Holy Ghost Church of East Africa

A unique blend of Christianity and traditional Kikuyu beliefs, deeply rooted in Kenyan society.


The Holy Ghost Church of East Africa, also known as Akurinu, represents a distinct African sect of Christianity primarily found among the Kikuyu community in the central region of Kenya. Officially registered in 1959, its origins are traced back to between 1926 and 1930 in Limuru, Kiambu County, Central Kenya. This sect is a fascinating blend of Christian doctrine and traditional Kikuyu religious beliefs, showcasing the dynamic interplay between indigenous practices and introduced faiths.

History

The term “akurinu” has varied interpretations, with some linking it to the Kikuyu question ‘Mukuri-ni’ meaning ‘who is the redeemer?’ and others to the growling sounds early adherents made during spiritual possession, described as gukurina. Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first president, referred to them as Arooti or dreamers, highlighting their devout nature.

Joseph Ng’ang’a is recognized as the founder, having ascended Mount Kenya with the first four akurinu prophets. During this pivotal event, they adopted practices such as discarding adornments and covering hair during prayer, which remain central to the Akurinu faith. The movement faced suppression from the British colonial government, especially during the 1950s, which saw its founder, Ng’ang’a, killed by British soldiers in 1934 while praying.

Beliefs and Practices

The Akurinu faith showcases distinct practices and beliefs that set it apart from mainstream Christianity:

  • They exhibit a distinctive appearance, donning white robes and turbans, rejecting European dressing styles.
  • The Holy Trinity is uniquely interpreted, with a special emphasis on the Holy Spirit.
  • Marital and social guidelines are prescribed, including marriage age restrictions and prohibitions against alcohol consumption.
  • They reject the use of statues and images in worship, adhering strictly to the commandment against graven images.
  • Baptism practices vary, including the use of oil or laying of hands, inspired by biblical texts.
  • Traditional burial practices are followed, avoiding mortuaries in favor of ice and other methods for preserving bodies.
  • A preference for traditional medicine over modern healthcare reflects their faith in divine healing.

Evolution and Diversity

Over the years, the Akurinu faith has evolved, adapting to modern influences while maintaining core beliefs. Initially conservative and predominantly Kikuyu, it has grown more inclusive, welcoming members from various tribes and backgrounds. Young adherents advocate for changes, leading to the faith’s adaptation and the emergence of sub-sects with unique practices.