A church in Kakamega County is in the spotlight over a peculiar ritual involving children that has raised eyebrows. It is a public rite that members of the church perform to supposedly introduce newborns to society.
In the past few years, some religious denominations have been sharply criticised for taking their followers through doctrines and practices that are generally regarded as misleading or even “ungodly”.
In the ritual reported by NTV, members of the African Traditional Church known as Rabbi were seen taking a one-month-old baby through a vigorous and risky activity.
As the worshippers sang and danced in the streets of Kakamega Town, the male infant was being tossed in the air, first by some women and then by men, in what they described as “lifting him in prayers”.
He was then taken to their church, where he was held upside down by the pastor.
According to Pastor George Aganda, the act is meant to help the child face the world without fear.
“The Bible says that we should dedicate children, especially the firstborn son, to the Lord in this manner. After 33 days, he is then taken to the altar, where he is fully dedicated to God,” Aganda said.
The church doctrine dictates that a baby must stay indoors until the 33 days are over. The mother is not allowed to do any household chores during that period.
The father is also forbidden from sharing a house with his wife during those days.
The child’s mother, Hellen Achieng’, and his father, Silas Otieno, said they were thankful for the ceremony.
“I am happy I can now go to church with other members after this ritual,” the mother said.
Otieno said: ” When you are blessed with a child, they should be dedicated to God and I’m happy I did it.”
LitKenya.com has established that such a robust physical act could have adverse long-term repercussions on a baby.
Online health publications warn that the child risks suffering the “shaken baby syndrome”, which is often caused by violently shaking an infant.
Shaking baby syndrome often occurs in children below the age of two, but in some isolated cases, those aged five.
The syndrome destroys a child’s brain cells and prevents his or her brain from getting enough oxygen for normal functioning.
Medics say the shaken baby syndrome is a form of child physical abuse and can cause permanent brain damage or death.