Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2022.

Degree Name

Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL)


Anh Q. Tran


This thesis demonstrates how the theo-philosophical concept of hospitality from the perspectives of African spirituality, Christianity, and Islam, combined with narrative examples, offers practical resources for building bridges between Kenyan Christians and Muslims to alleviate the sufferings of the Somali refugees in the Dadaab Refugee Complex. The refugees' hardship includes poor shelter, inadequate food supply, poor educational and health standards, insecurity, recurring threats of deportation by the Kenyan government, sex and gender-based violence.

The African philosophical concept of ubuntu provides the framework for reconciling Somali refugees, the Kenyan government, and the Somalis who remain in Somalia to build lasting peace within the refugee camps. Similarly, a theological reflection on Jesus‘ miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fish invites the Kenyan government and humanitarian agencies to avail resources for training Somali refugees to be self-reliant. Additionally, Jesus‘ encounter with the Samaritan woman inspires Kenyan Christians to break the barriers that separate them from the Muslims and collaborate with Kenyan Muslims to serve the Somali refugees, who are predominantly Muslims. In Islam, Prophet Muhammad‘s respect for women and care for vulnerable people in the city of Medina provides the framework for Kenyan Muslims‘ response to sex and gender-based violence in the refugee camps.

In this thesis, I use Cardinal Cardijn‘s ―See, Judge, and Act‖ of Catholic Church social analysis to highlight the sufferings of the Somali refugees, reflect theologically on hospitality, and consider ways of remedying the plight of the Somali refugees. In short, under the ―See‖ method, I highlight the socio-history of the Somali refugees and their harsh living conditions in the Dadaab Refugee Complex. Then, using the ―Judge‖ method, I examine the theological imports of ubuntu philosophy, the Christian and Islamic teachings–all against the background of and using the hermeneutical lens of hospitality. Lastly, employing the "Act" method, I demonstrate the response strategies by the Kenyan government, Muslims, and Christians towards the Somali refugees.

Through this thesis, I achieve the following goals. First, I highlight the dire living conditions of the Somali refugees, such as food scarcity, poor educational and health standards, insecurity, sex and gender-based violence. Second, I demonstrate that reconciliation among the Somalis in Somalia, the refugees, and the Kenyan government guarantees an enduring peace both inside and outside Dadaab Refugee Complex. Third, I discuss how Muhammad's respect for women and women's advocacy could curtail sex and gender-based violence cases in the refugee camps. Fourth, I assert that updated theological curricula equip theology students with the skills they require to serve vulnerable people like Somali refugees. Fifth, I use the model of church-as-family to defend the refugees' rights and provide for their basic needs. Finally, I propose that establishing a Jesuit Center for Interreligious Dialogue would provide a platform for harmonizing the work of Faith-Based Organizations, hence, quality services to Somali refugees.

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