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African Indigenous knowledge versus Western science in the Mbeere Mission of Kenya

Julius M. Gathogo


This article sets out to explore the way in which Western science and technology was received in the Mbeere Mission of central Kenya since August 1912  when a medical missionary, Dr T.W.W. Crawford, visited the area. In his dalliance with ecclesiastical matters, Crawford, a highly trained Canadian medical  doctor, was sent by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) at Kigari-Embu, in 1910, to pioneer the Anglican mission in the vast area that included  Mbeereland, where Mbeere Mission is situated. Contending with the African indigenous knowledge in medicine, environmental conservation, agriculture  and other forms of indigenous science, the introduction of Western science and technology, 1912 to 1952, the article argues, did not erase the former;  rather, it complimented it. Pockets of general resistance were evident, though Mbeereland, unlike its neighbouring Mutira Mission of 1912, did not offer  elaborate opposition to the Western science and technology, partly because the locals could have learnt about it from their neighbours who had  experienced it much earlier. Through a historico-narrative design, the research article endeavours to primarily review the coming of Western medicine in  Mbeereland: Did it conflict with the African medicine? Methodologically, the data have been collected via archival sources, oral interviews and by  reviewing applicable literature.

Contribution: The input of this research article to the HTS Journal’s vision and scope is seen by appreciating its focus on  the interface between African indigenous knowledge and the European science and technology. Although the main focus is African versus western  medicine, and how it was historically received in Mbeere Mission of Central Kenya, it largely speaks for the tropical Africa. The article is within the  multidisciplinary areas in missiology and historiography. 

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2072-8050
print ISSN: 0259-9422