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Ghosts and cleansing among the Luo people
Jim Harries, a British missionary working under Church of God auspices in the Luo region of Western Kenya, enrolled in GMI's Applied Research Training course on email. He wanted to get some help testing his hypothesis that Luo Christians filter Western theological input through Luo views of jochiende (ghosts, literally "haunters") and puodhruok (spiritual cleansing), producing a form of Christianity that most Westerners neither grasp nor address.
Fluent in the Luo language and already living as a single person in a Luo village for some time, Jim used the Applied Research course to focus his observations and interpret his findings. If Jim is correct, the Luo regard ghosts (and other spirits) as central forces to be reckoned with in life, though few foreign teachers take these forces seriously. The Luo also are deciding which churches to attend "according to their strength in providing puodhruok."
Jim has written his findings up in a way he intends as a help to other foreigners working among the Luo and related African peoples. GMI is happy to assist with this kind of research and writing. Without it, many cross-cultural workers are shooting in the dark.
If you or someone you know is working among people groups who rely on similar spiritualist influences, Jim's full research report is available on request from [email protected].
How much English is too much in African broadcasting?
A Trans World Radio (TWR) affiliate in Swaziland was broadcasting about 2/3 of its programming in the local language, Siswati, and 1/3 in Swaziland's other official language, English. TWR regional director of programming, Tom Tatlow, suspected that the amount of English was still too high for the listening audience. He decided to find out.
He enrolled in GMI's Applied Research Training course via email, in which he was coached through the process of researching and addressing this issue. Among his findings was this: in a country with a literacy rate of 77% and all secondary school instruction being done in English, less that 25% understood a two-minute excerpt from a TWR radio program adequately, well, or very well.
Numerous other findings about listening preferences and the reasons for them led Trans World Radio to reduce the amount of English broadcasting in Swaziland and to introduce two completely new programs in Siswati.
TWR is now reviewing the ratio of English to local language broadcasting in some other African countries, since the level of English comprehension in Swaziland was thought to be higher than most.
Because Tom's research could be extremely valuable for others in similar circumstances, GMI is making a copy of Tom's research report available by request. Simply contact [email protected].
Can a good American be a bad Builsa?
Stan Nussbaum's book, The ABCs of American Culture, has triggered various ideas and experiments around the world, including this one reported to us by an SIM missionary in Ghana.
I really enjoyed your book on American proverbs. I actually did something similar with Builsa proverbs and obtained Ten Core Values of the Builsa. I then used your "Ten Commandments of American Culture" to compare/contrast the Builsa ones. This led to some very interesting discussions. As a result, I included a section in my thesis entitled, "How Can a Good American be a Bad Builsa?"
It helps cross-cultural workers become aware of the differences in core values so that they can be seen as good news and not bad news. I just wanted to let you know that your work was very helpful to us.
Thanks again for your encouragement. I hope to hear from you again soon.
May God bless you,
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