Early in 1971, when the Church first launched its campaign for funds in aid of building the General Assembly Head Offices, the Fund Raising Committee designed a badge to be purchased and worn by the Church members and friends. The badge bore the word JITEGEMEA, the word which became the title of the Church’s quarterly bulletin. In the September 1972 issue of that bulletin the Secretary General Rev. John Gatu, presented his interpretation of the word JITEGEMEA and the significance of the badge. The following is an excerpt from that article:
“In the first place, the word is in Swahili because it was felt necessary to use a national language if only to say to those who have accused the Church of tribalism, that we are more national than some take us to be. “The word comes from EGEMEA which means “to lean against”. This-also brings about the word TEGEMEA which can be literally translated “to depend upon” or "to be dependent on” something. It can also be translated as “trusting”.
To give the word a concept of movement it was added JI and the word becomes JITEGEMEA. JI brings in a personal pronoun and, in this case, the whole word comes to mean “to stand on your own feet”. But as a concept it now means “a movement toward self-reliance”.
“This word is inside the Cross meaning that proper movement towards self-reliance, self-consciousness and real self-determination can only come from Him who died to make us all free and the Cross is the sign of our freedom. It also means that the Cross, i.e., the love of God and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the basis of our self-reliance for in Him we can do all things.
Inside the Cross you have the star of Bethlehem which led the shepherds to the place where Christ was to be born. This is a recognition of the mission and witness and service of the Church as she leads people to Christ.
“The background of all this is the blue colour which is the choice Presbyterian Colour. In the context of East Africa where the skies are beautiful blue there is nothing that can more clearly describe the openness of the field in which we have to labour than the saying “the sky is the limit”. There is an open door in every sector of life of our society for the liberating message of Jesus Christ. We must respond to that challenge.
The Capital G in the middle - at first this was just an artistic symmetric, with time many have now depicts this to represents the first letter of the word God. In other words, God is the midst of all we attempt to do in His name.
“Why then is JITEGEMEA so important?
Because it must be seen to be practised in our church Courts, in our homes, in our societal commitments, in the use of our church funds, and our future planning whether in personnel or material investments. It must be seen in our relationship with other Churches from whatever persuasion they may belong as long as they honour and believe in the Triune God of our faith. In this concept we propose to plunge ahead in faith and under God to greater depths of our Church life. The word can remain only a slogan unless each individual member of the Church is committed to it in Christ. The least we can ask therefore is your commitment.”
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