Thursday, August 7, 2014

News from Nairobi

By James Chege
Maryknoll Institute of African Studies
Editor: Father Michael C. Kirwen, Director

Prize Giving Ceremonies

On July 9 the students, field assistants and faculty gathered for the final day of the second immersion program.  The day began with summary lectures given for each course, followed by a coffee break and thereafter a plenary session.

Professor Waruta addresses students and field assistants during the final assembly.

During the plenary session, the lecturers spoke briefly about their courses and invited students who had not taken their respective courses to join their classes. Certificates were handed to field assistants who had qualified for three  levels of certification. Foundational certificates were given to those who have worked in at least six courses and scored a minimum “B” in their course essays. The intermediate certificates were issued to those who had worked an additional six courses, and the advanced certificates were issued to those who had worked in a further six courses for  a total of 18 courses.

All smiles as Judith Onyango receives her intermediate certification from Francis Kimani who was representing the Chairman of the MIASMU board, Fr. Lance Nadeau. 
Another highlight of the day was the prize giving ceremony for outstanding field assistants. Here, the three best male and female field assistants, as chosen through balloting by field assistants and MIASMU staff, received gifts for their hard work and dedication. For the men  field assistants position 1, 2 and 3 went to Victor Okubasu, Francis Kamunya and Lawrence Ofunja respectively. On the ladies side Sarah O’kubasu lead the way followed by Grace Onalo and Emma Masau. All the remaining field assistants were also given a small token of appreciation for their continued efforts in the program.

Francis Kamunya receives his gift from MIASMU assistant director Dr. Edith Chamwama.

The day ended with a celebration featuring the famous ‘nyama choma’ – roast goat meat-- that was enjoyed by all.

MA Student Successfully Defends Thesis

Zacharie Kyungu, a citizen of the Congo,  successfully defended his M.A. thesis on July 2. His thesis was on death and burial rites among the Bukusu Quakers of Bungoma County in western Kenya. His examining panel consisted of the chairperson and thesis adviser, Professor Douglas Waruta; thesis reader Professor Mary Getui; and MIASMU program director, Professor Michael Kirwen.

The thesis committee listens to Kyungu’s thesis defence.
The thesis presented the mindset of the Bukusu regarding death and burial rites.  It highlighted how there must be continuing ties between the living and the departed, even though the dead person is physically absent. One of the strongest ties is through his/her children and through the rituals which unite the two world as relatives and neighbors come to bid farewell and mourn the deceased. The Bukusu sacrifices, rituals, and the memorial services are expressions of “Bukusu Spirituality” regarding death and burial. The challenge for Christians is to find ways to integrate, in a holistic manner, their Christian and Bukusu spiritualities when faced with death and burial.

Zacharie stands between the MIAS director Professor Kirwen and Professor Getui
with Professor Waruta in the foreground.