The Giriama's Trinity

...the most surprising point however is the issue about the TRINITY!

During my last trip to Kenya (one of many) I had the opportunity and the interest to dig a little bit deeper into the cultural and more specifically, the spiritual tradition of the Giriama tribe which is rather complex. The Giriamaare one of the nine groups which form the Mijikenda nation. On one hand they practice a certain type of ancestor cult. Those ancestors are represented by characteristic wooden figures which may be found in different locations considered sacred. At some places of the Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve some groups of figures appear near to the paths of the forest.

Kenya Giriama Shaman at hut of Gods

In the picture it is also possible to see also several representations in the hut of a Shaman of the Giriama.In case of need of advise or difficult situations, people may access the sacred hut of the Shaman (always barefoot) and contact the ancestors for help. The ancestors also contact the members of the tribe through their dreams asking for food or clothes. As it can be seen in the image, the figures are covered with small clothes, always in the typical Giriama colores, red, blue and white. If the ancestors are hungry a gathering will be organised at the burial place with a goat sacrified and the family members happily celebrating a party on the graves.

Kenya Giriama Shaman at hut of ancestors

The amazing part comes when we study the religious believes of the Giriama: They believed in a Trinity, that is God father, Son and Spirit before the wazungu, the whites, came with their soldiers and missionaries to impose the christian religion on them! I checked this point with several Giriama and they all confirmed the point, the believe in the Trinity is pre-christian..The prayers are made in a special hut where the believer poses his hands upon two wooden poles of different length, the short one representing the mother, the longer one the father while sitting on a special small chair with three legs. The components of the Trinity are contacted through prayer to ask for help, console and advice.

Photo credits: Joan Egert.

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February 08, 2018


thanks very much for your kind comment Suebmtl!

February 07, 2018


Very interesting article and great photos.

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