Contemporary Aesthetics of the Akurino: A Religion or a Cultural Movement?


  • Gitau Muthuma



This paper examines the aesthetics of the worship rituals, music, artifacts and the oral tradition of the Holy Ghost Church of East Africa, or Akurino religious sect, which is a unique blend of Christian religious practices and traditional African worship systems. The main question here is whether the Akurino are a Christian religious sect or a cultural movement? The Akurino are significantly interesting due to the fact that they claim to be an indigenous African Christian religion, among many such others. But the fact that they are mostly found in Central Kenya and the Rift Valley regions, and are confined among the Gikuyu people only and have not attracted adherents from other segments of society, raises the question as to whether they may not also be a cult or a cultural movement. The Akurino started appearing in the middle of the 1920s. They grew strictly out of indigenous leadership. Their first generation membership came out of various missions as well as the unchurched population that followed Gikuyu traditional religion. The group was in its infancy and was functioning in various parts of Gikuyu country, but had little influence with the general population, its appeal being to such individuals as had been pronounced 'sinners' by missionaries, and to others who had been cured of diseases.


Article received: December 18, 2019; Article accepted: January 31, 2020; Published online: April 15, 2020; Review article

Author Biography

Gitau Muthuma

Gitau Muthuma has taught English and Literature at the School of Banking, National University of Rwanda, Simad University, Mogadisho, Somalia, Eelo University, Somaliland and has also been an editor at Focus Publishers. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Technical University of Kenya, Nairobi.


Gachanja, Timothy. “The Pacifist Presence in Kenya.” Accessed on January 10, 2020.

Njeri, Philomena. “The Akurinu Churches: A study of the history and some of the basic beliefs of the Holy Ghost Church of East Africa, 1926–1980.” Master of Arts thesis, University of Nairobi, 1984. Accessed on January 15, 2020.

Waigwa, Solomon W. “Pentecost without Azusa: An historical and theological analysis of the Akorino Church in Kenya.” PhD diss., Waco, Texas, Baylor University, 2006.

Wanyoike, Simon Murigi. “The transformation of an African religious movement: A case of the Akurinu of Kandara Sub County in Murang’a County, Kenya, 1926–2000.” Master of Arts (Histoty) thesis, Kenyatta University, October, 2016.

Welbourn, F. B. & Ogot, B. A. A Place to Feel at Home: A Study of Two Independent Churches in Western Kenya. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966.




How to Cite

Muthuma, G. (2020). Contemporary Aesthetics of the Akurino: A Religion or a Cultural Movement?. AM Journal of Art and Media Studies, (21), 59–69.



Contemporary East African Aesthetics – Guest Section Editor Lydia W. Muthuma