Religion in Africa

Religion in Africa

Religion in Africa is multifaceted. Most Africans adhere to either Christianity or Islam. Islam and Christianity contest which is larger, but many people that are adherents of both religions also practice African traditional religions, with traditions of folk religion or syncretism practised alongside an adherent's Christianity or Islam. [Encyclopedia Britannica. Britannica Book of the Year 2003. Encyclopedia Britannica, (2003) ISBN 9780852299562 p.306
According to the Encyclopedia Britanica, as of mid-2002, there were 376,453,000 Christians, 329,869,000 Muslims and 98,734,000 people who practiced traditional religions in Africa. [ Ian S. Markham,(A World Religions Reader. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1996.)] is cited by Morehouse University as giving the mid 1990s figure of 278,250,800 Muslims in Africa, but still as 40.8% of the total population. These numbers are estimates, and remain a matter of conjecture. See Amadu Jacky Kaba. The spread of Christianity and Islam in Africa: a survey and analysis of the numbers and percentages of Christians, Muslims and those who practice indigenous religions. The Western Journal of Black Studies, Vol 29, Number 2, June 2005. Discusses the estimations of various almanacs and encyclopedium, placing Britannica's estimate as the most agreed figure. Notes the figure presented at the [ World Christian Encyclopedia, summarized here] , as being an outlier. On rates of growth, Islam and Pentecostal Christianity are highest, see: [ The List: The World’s Fastest-Growing Religions] , Foreign Policy, May 2007.

Abrahamic religions

The majority of Africans are adherents of the Abrahamic religions: Islam and Christianity. Both religions are widespread throughout Africa. These religions are often adapted to African cultural contexts and indigenous belief systems. It was estimated in 2000 that Christians form 45% of Africa's population, and Muslims forming 40.6%. ["The Africanization of Missionary Christianity: History and Typology", Steven Kaplan, Journal of Religion in Africa 16 (3) (1986), 165-186. [ In Africa, Islam and Christianity are growing - and blending] . Abraham McLaughlin The Christian Science Monitor, 26 January 2006. ]


Islam has adherents throughout Africa and it is one the most widely practiced religion in the continent. [ ] Its historical roots in Africa stems from the time of its founder Muhammad whose relatives and followers migrated on a hijra to Abyssinia in fear of persecution from the pagan Arabs. Islam is the dominant religion in North Africa and the Horn of Africa, and it is also well established and prominent in the Sahel (particularly in northern Côte d'Ivoire, northern Ghana, southwest and northern Nigeria), and along the coast of East Africa. Islam continued a rapid growth into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Today, backed by gulf oil cash, Muslims have increased success in proselytizing, with a growth rate, by some estimates, that is twice as fast as Christianity in Africa. [ Islam making in-roads in Zambia]


Christianity has existed in Africa for two millennia. It is aguably the most practised religion in the continent. The Orthodox Coptic Church, today prominent in Egypt, Ethiopia and Eritrea were, according to Christian scriptures, established by the Apostle Mark approximately AD 42. [ Eusebius of Caesarea, the author of Ecclesiastical History in the fourth century, states that st. Mark came to Egypt in the first or third year of the reign of Emperor Claudius, i.e. 41 or 43 A.D. "Two Thousand years of Coptic Christianity" Otto F.A. Meinardus p28. ] Missionary activity during the colonial period, as well as evangelism and Pentecostalism in modern times, has firmly established Christianity in Africa, particularly in central, southern and eastern Africa, and around the Gulf of Guinea.


There are several communities of African adherents of Judaism dispersed across the African continent, including the Beta Israel of Ethiopia, the Abayudaya of Uganda, the House of Israel in Ghana and the Lemba of Southern Africa.


The history of Hinduism in Africa is, by most accounts, very short in comparison to that of Islam, Christianity, or even Judaism. However, the presence of its practitioners in Africa dates back to pre-colonial times and even medieval times. There are sizable of Hindu populations in South Africa and the East African coastal nations.

Traditional religion

Traditional African religion encompasses a wide variety traditional beliefs. Traditional religious customs are sometimes shared by many African societies, but they are usually unique to specific ethnic groups. Many African Christians and Muslims maintain some aspects of their traditional religions.

Below are some of the African Tradition religion practiced in West Africa. example: Rep. Benin, Nigeria, Ghana, amongst others.

1- There is Legba, the god of crossroads, who acts as a messenger to other gods. In downtown Cotonou, a gas station has gone up beside a famous shrine to Legba. At "Station Legba," as the sign says, you can fuel up and leave a priest instructions to pray for you.

2- Sango, the god of thunder, who acts and protects its loyal. it is better recognize with RED and WHITE attire for worship.

3- Orounmila/Eboh, this god is predominately worshiped in Benin Kingdom, and other cities in Nigeria. Mode of worship includes sacrificing of hen, kola nuts, turtles, white chalk and coconut while making chants in appealing the gods of Orounmila.

Aggregate estimates

ee also

* African mythology


External links

* [ BBC]
* []
* [ Text of "Atoms and Ancestors", considered a classic study]
* [ Stanford Page]
* [ African Religions at Africa Missions Resource Center]
* [ "Bwiti: An Ethnography of the Religious Imagination in Africa", James Fernandez, Princeton University Press, 1982]
* [ The Meaning of Peace in African Traditional Religion and Culture]
* [ Introduction to Afro-American Studies]

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