The Vitality of Karamojong Religion: Dying Tradition or Living Faith?

Article excerpt

The Vitality of Karamojong Religion: Dying Tradition or Living Faith? By Ben Knighton. Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate Publishing, 2005. Pp. xvi, 349. $99.95 / £55.

Indigenous religious traditions are still alive in many parts of the globe. In spite of the disruption of their traditional worldviews, many indigenous people still maintain a sacred path that is different from those of other religious traditions. In many contexts, indigenous people have contended with conversion pressure from other religions, globalization, colonization, and postmodernity. This book deals with the traditional religion of the Karamojong people of Uganda. Using oral traditions, extensive ethnographic research, and historical and anthropological approaches, Knighton describes a religious life that is rich in symbols, rituals, sacred places, sacred practices, metaphors, and experience of the numinous. In a field often plagued by such problems as blatant stereotypes, sentimentalism, essentialism, and facile generalizations, Knighton presents a balanced analysis of Karamojong religion. This indigenous religious tradition has proven to be resilient and resistant to external forces. Knighton writes that the traditional culture of the Karamojong people dates back only to the 1830s, when diverse ethnic groups and practices were permanently amalgamated. Since then, the traditional culture has been very adroit at responding to the vagaries of historical change. …