Ruwe Holy Ghost Church of East Africa is an African indigenous Church predominantly among the luo ethnic community of western Kenya, eastern Uganda and northeastern Tanzania. It traces its origin to the Roho (Holy Spirit) movement in western part of Kenya as early as 1912 in Ruwe, Ugenya, Siaya County in Kenya. From late 1930s to early 1960s the movement had assembled a good number of catechists and believers in the transformational power of the Holy Spirit. The continuous expansion of the movement coupled with its belief in the power of the Holy Spirit through prayer as the only and true way to a transformed life, the suspicion mistrust and misunderstandings by the colonial authorities, local communities and the missionaries, led to theological tension and eventual break from the C.M.S mainstream (Anglican) Church in 1933.
Though with the name ‘RUWE’ one needs to be cognizant of the fact that Musanda is the focal point and epicenter of all that pertains the church’s history. As elaborated further in the detailed account of various historical events that are key within the Roho movement before its establishment as a church, to mention but a few; (1) The Luo-Luhya inter ethnic and religious conflicts that led to the split of Musanda Church resulting to Musanda-Luo and Musanda- Bantu churches in 1919 and the eventual burning of the Musanda-Luo church. (2) The massive gathering on December 1st 1933 at Mangos home in Musanda for special prayers which today is strictly commemorated as martyrs’’ preparation prayers, ‘Lamb Chir’ (3) The Sunday church service in December 17th 1933 at Musanda-Luo church in which Lawi Obonyo being symbolically authorized by Mango performed baptism. (4) Raising of the church’s flag and crowning of the ‘King’ on the throne on January 16th 1934 at Mango’s home in Musanda. (5) The designing of the new administration on January 18th 1934 by Mango, Lawi and ‘Kingi’ Elijah Oloo in consultation with others also at Mango’s home in Musanda. (6)Martyrdom of Reverend Alfayo Odongo Mango and eight other martyrs on January 20th 1934 in what is commonly known as the Musanda massacre by the colonial records. All these once again, shouldn’t escape one’s mind that Musanda is the geographical umbilical cord of Ruwe Holy Ghost Church of East Africa.
About a year after the massacre, there began the process of expansion that continues till today but was most aggressive from 1935 through to the early 1960s Eastwards to the Luhyaland, Southwest around Lake Victoria and into the North Tanzania and Uganda. Ruwe Holy Ghost Church was duly registered in Kenya as a church in 1972 after failed attempts to band together the indigenous splinter groups of faith that existed then, the Roho group at Ruwe led by Barnaba Waluoho, those at Musanda led by Andrea Odera Okoyo and another group known as ‘Duond Warruok’ (Voice of Salvation) to form the Holy Ghost Society in 1956. Through the help of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga (who was the luo political leader) acting as their advocate, helped them draw up a constitution- a fundamental requirement for registration by the state.
In 1957 the three churches were registered collectively as the Holy Ghost Society of Kenya (the government didn’t accept names in African languages). The organization remained intact until 1960 when animosities among them surfaced again. This eventually led to distinct registration i.e. Ruwe Holy Ghost Church of East Africa, Musanda Holy Ghost Church of East Africa and the Voice of Salvation Church.
This schism being a common phenomenon among the indigenous churches in Africa, many Roho (Holy Spirit) affiliated Churches have sprung up from the original Roho movement. The expansion process after 1972 lead to rapid spread of this church to other metropolitan cities in Kenya including Kisumu, Nairobi, Mombasa and other towns such as Narok, Eldoret, Ruiru, Thika among others. Headquartered at Manyatta in Kisumu City, majority of Ruwe Holy Ghost Church of East Africa congregations are in Kenya, approximately 20% in Tanzania and 10% in Uganda.
As a longtime member of the Organization of African Instituted Churches(OAIC) in Kenya, we believe in unity of purpose to win souls for the kingdom of God by reaching for the lost in finding their way back to God through institutionalization of various church organs, being culturally relevant while maintaining doctrinal purity of the Church.