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How ‘Dini Ya Msambwa’ Religion Hinders and Promotes Development


According to The Spectator Archive, (1950), Dini ya Msambwa is a religious movement that began among the Kitosh people who live around Mt. Elgon. The religion was founded by Elijah Masinde who grew up in Nyanza Province and attended a mission school before he was employed a general utility man at a missionary property. After some time, he fell out with the missionaries because of his different beliefs. He believed that there should be a black Messiah for the Kenyan people and thus went to start his own church thereby founding Dini ya Msambwa.  The Dini ya Msambwa is mainly practiced among the Luhya people of Kenya.

How the ‘Dini Ya Msambwa’ religion hinders development

In an article in the Daily Nation by E. Omari, (2013), the Dini ya Msambwa sect was banned after its leader Elijah Masinde was accused of inciting people against the government. Masinde believed that as a leader, it was up to him to take care of his people and thus he would find ways to show his followers what the government had not done for them. At times, he would urge them to rebel and sabotage government policies. For example, he would encourage the police to mutiny because the government did not take care of their welfare.

Another way in which Dini ya Msambwa hinders development is by engaging in criminal activities, terrorism and other activities that result in insecurity. For example, in the colonial times, when Dini ya Msambwa found policies by the European government that they did not agree with, they would retaliate by engaging in crime such as stealing property owned by the European government, committing arson. There are multiple recorded instances where members of the Dini ya Msambwa religion would attack European officials resulting in their death. An example is the Battle of Baringo in 1950 where Dini ya Msambwa members declared war against the British administrators in Kenya.

In addition, Dini ya Msambwa hinders development through fanaticism and brainwashing of members. A good example of this is the disciple who replaced Elijah Masinde called Lucas. He had a gold tooth in his jaw which he claimed that God had specifically given him. He also had very good oratory skills and with this he would convince the Dini ya Msambwa followers to unite and mobilise others into working on his own agenda.

How ‘Dini Ya Msambwa’ religion promotes development

However, the Dini ya Msambwa religion does not only hinder development; it also promotes development in various ways. An example of how the religion has promoted development is through engaging in nationalistic activities and the fight for independence. Elijah Masinde after breaking out with the Europeans went back home and started organizing his people against the colonial rule. He would from time to time partner with other nationalist leaders such as Jomo Kenyatta in the fight and struggle for independence. He also warned his followers against collaborating with the Whiteman and would lead attacks on British camps and chiefs that collaborated with the British.

The Dini ya Msambwa religion also promotes wholistic growth and development of its members. The religion promotes preservation and continuation of African traditions and beliefs and tries to ensure that members are in the right moral standing of the community. For example, Dini ya Msambwa allows and actually advocates for polygamy for members who are able to. Also, as much as the religion follows Christian teachings, it also advocates that members keep their traditional beliefs and customs.

Dini ya Msambwa also promotes development by promoting a working culture among its members and urging them to find local solutions to their problems as opposed to waiting for the government to bring development to them. A good example of this is during Masinde’s time. He would tell his members that the Europeans could not solve African problem such as poverty and that only them could work towards alleviating those problems. During times of drought and famine, Masinde urges his people to search for other lands outside their local areas to farm and do irrigation.

Lastly, Dini ya Msambwa promotes development by promoting and ensuring unity among its members. The religion has its own ways of solving disputes among its members. Moreover, members of the Dini ya Msambwa are usually very close and it is for this reason that it is very had to meet only one member of the Dini ya Msambwa religion alone; most of the time they are usually in a group or family.


Omari, E. (2013). Dini ya Msambwa. Daily Nation.

The Spectator Archive, (1950). Dini ya Msambwa. Retrieved on 9th August 2016 from


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