I suffered five and
one half hours of acculturation and inculturation at the burial of Emily Wangari
at Kinoo, just west of the Nairobi city limits in Kenya. Emily was the younger
sister of Mr. Mwite who does most of our plumbing repairs here. He asked me to
drive our pick-up to carry his relatives from the mortuary to his home and later
on to the grave site. Inculturation is being introduced into the real African
way of doing things.
first thing about inculturation into African ways is that things are SLOW.
After arriving at his home from the mortuary, we sat down on benches under a
large tent and proceeded to just sit and wait for two solid hours. I thank God
for the grace to just blend in and use the time for relaxing. During these two
hours many photographs were taken of people beside Emily’s casket (with a
colored photo of her on top of the casket). I had my picture taken with Mr.
Mwite and Emily’s husband because I had come out to pray for Emily and anoint
her some three mouths ago. Emily died of AIDS and was 26 going on 27.
After these two hours
the Anglican pastor and several of his associates showed up. Again about
one-half hour’s wait. The whole two hour service was in Kikuyu, the local
language which I don’t understand except for a few words. I was impressed with
the way the pastor shared his service with his other associates. Less admirable
to me was the length of the prayers and the pastor’s sermon. LONG. Finally
after four and a half hours, we made our way to the cemetery. I drove the pastor
and his chief associate in the front seat of the pick-up because he did not own
a car, apparently. Our Catholic Church can learn about self-support from these
Anglicans. There is no way poor people (parishioners) can support a car. The
burial took another hour. All the men (about 50 present) had shared in digging
the huge grave and now they shared in covering the grave while the women sang
songs. Naturally there were more long sermons. Surprisingly, there was no
ritual, no blessing with holy water, etc. etc.
This was really
inculturation and it’s a hard job. I went from breakfast till 4:30 p.m. before I
got home for "lunch" and had something to drink. I don’t drink the local water
because the people don’t boil it like we do at home. Thank God my colon didn’t
act up. I did not see any easily accessible places to go to the toilet. But it
was a valuable experience. I realized how much we missionaries control the
liturgy and keep it short and to the point. We definitely need to get more
African people to be associates with us so that our liturgy is more in tune with
the people’s way of thinking and feeling.