The nexus between traditional African belief and pandemics: the manifestation of nyawawa spirits amidst the spread of corona virus in the Lake Victoria basin, Kisumu, Kenya
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to better understand the relationship between traditional African beliefs and the prevalence, manifestation, and management of the COVID-19 pandemic among the Luo of Kisumu, Kenya. COVID-19 has had an impact on practically all of the world's continents, including Africa, since its emergence in Wuhan, China in December 2019. As the number of cases and deaths reported internationally continues to rise, everyday real-time reporting of the COVID-19 epidemic has heightened terror and anxiety among the public. There is still a lot we don't know about this condition. Authorities and scientists still don't have all of the answers to the many issues that have been raised. Because medical therapies for COVID-19 are now restricted to supportive measures aimed at easing symptoms, as well as the utilization of research medications and therapeutics, it is believed that patients will easily turn to a greater power than themselves to find hope in an otherwise bleak situation. Spirituality and religious coping become a credible option for resolving the issues of COVID-19 in Africa because the influence of religion in crisis situations cannot be neglected in Africa. The soothing impact of religion in dealing with the COVID-19 situation, has been examined in this study among Luo clans in Kisumu, Kenya. The rich religious affiliation of the Luo community gives them an opportunity to explore a faith-centric response to the pandemic individually and collectively.
Methodology: This article used Pargament's theory of religious coping to examine the coronavirus pandemic and traditional African beliefs and practices. Because Nyawawa Spirits are linked to Lake Victoria, the region has been purposefully designated. Data was collected using descriptive survey approaches such as Key Informant Interviews and Focus Group Discussions. A convenient sample of 23 respondents was chosen and interviewed on purposively. Five elders from the Luo Council of Elderss, five religious leaders from African Spirituals churches, five traditional specialists - traditional healers, five elders over the age of 70, and three chiefs from three sublocations are among the 23. All of these respondents were chosen because they are considered to be custodians of Luo traditions and practices, and hence are relevant in providing the essential exposure to the study's topic.
Findings: Following a number of other expressions of traditional beliefs and behaviors demonstrated by many Kenyan groups throughout the pandemic, this study is valid. The findings demonstrate that, rather than attributing coronavirus occurrence solely to traditional beliefs and spirituality, the majority of respondents saw it as a public health risk that should be addressed with precautionary measures. They believe that the government's restriction on social gatherings, which has harmed religious ceremonies such as burial rites, is the proper thing to do and that it is not only directed against religious and ethnic groups. Most religious leaders, on the other hand, think that some religious rituals, such as the celebration of death through elaborate rites, provide individuals with "necessary" emotional and spiritual support. Even if they are sick with the coronavirus, respondents feel that the religious rites they do can heal them.
Unique contribution to theory, practice and policy: The research fits into a unique academic niche, emphasizing how African spirituality is frequently used as a religious coping mechanism for understanding and dealing with difficult life experiences that are linked to the sacred. As a terrible and highly unanticipated event, the COVID-19 crisis fits all of the criteria for generating religious coping mechanisms. While existing works in this thematic specialization, namely human response to pandemics, have frequently emphasized the effects of modern scientific and non-religious variables, the uniqueness of this work is its alternative perspective, which focuses on covert religious mechanisms used by some African societies in the face of pandemics such as COVID-19.