Women of Fire and Spirit: Faith, History and Gender in Roho Religion in Western Kenya

Women of Fire and Spirit: Faith, History and Gender in Roho Religion in Western Kenya


By (author) Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton


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Paperback $62.48
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 162mm x 238mm x 25mm | 676g
  • Publication date: 1 March 2002
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0195097904
  • ISBN 13: 9780195097900
  • Illustrations note: 16 pp halftones, 2 maps
  • Sales rank: 1,330,672

Product description

This is the first extensive study of the African Christian Roho religion, or Holy Spirit movement, in Western Kenya. Hoehler-Fatton uses extensive oral histories and life narratives to provide a counterweight to existing historical literature, and also brings to the fore the role of women in the evolution and expansion of the Church.

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Review quote

."..adds detail and considerable texture to the study of indigenous religion in Africa."--Choice"An important and innovative study."--Benjamin Ray, University of Virginia"Historians, anthropologists, and students of religion will relish this book....This is a significant and original piece of work."--Atienbo Odhiambo, Rice University"By giving voice to African women of their experience of the Holy Spirit, this remarkable study is one of the most finely textured presentations of religion in Africa available."--Church History"A must read for anyone interested in East African history, charismatic Christianity, or issues of power and gender."--Religious Studies Review

Back cover copy

The Roho or Holy Spirit churches of Nyanza Province in western Kenya spring from a charismatic Christian movement that emerged among the Luo during the colonial era. In Women of Fire and Spirit, Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton uses oral histories and life narratives of active Roho participants, giving them full voice in constructing the history of their movement. In doing so, she counter-balances the existing historical literature, which draws heavily on colonial records. Hoehler-Fatton's sources call into question the paradigm of "schism" that has dominated the discussion of African independent Christianity. Faith, rather than schism or politics, emerges here as the hallmark of Roho religion. Hoehler-Fatton's book is doubly unusual in emphasizing the role of women in the evolution and expansion of the Roho Church. She traces the gradual transformation of women's involvement from the early years when - drawing on indigenous models of female spirit possession - women acted as soldiers and pastors, to the present condition of Western-style institutionalization and limited leadership opportunities for women. Today's Roho women, nevertheless, find fulfillment in their work as healers and continue to draw inspiration from the defiance of past heroines.