Friday, January 31, 2014

Christianity in Africa

Christianity in Africa:
The African Peoples Profession of Faith in A Judeo-Christian God

During the Old Style Conjure radio show Momma Starr and her panel of hosts (including me) discussed the importance of the Holy Bible and the belief in the Holy Trinity that is a core part of this powerful spiritual practice.

As part of the discussion I elaborated on the reality that the dominant religions of the African continent are Judeo-Christian faiths thus being Christianity and Islam. I said that in Africa the vast majority of people are Christian or Muslim so in this writing I’d like to corroborate that information with some basic facts regarding this topic and hopefully elucidate any confusion that may have risen from this popular but highly controversial subject in the online spiritual community. 

To commence this topic I think folks should be cognizant that 1 out of every 4 Christians live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa comprises 24% of all Christians on the planet according to Pew Forum. That basically means Africa retains a quarter of the world’s Christians with 36.8% in the Americas, 13.1% in Asia-Pacific, and 25.9% in Europe as of the year 2010.  In addition what’s interesting about this study conducted in 2010 is that when compared to the original survey in 1910 it was ascertained that Christianity rose in Sub-Saharan Africa from 9% to 63% in 100 years. This is deeply significant as it shows that large numbers of Africans identify as being Christian in their faith and belief systems.

Now for those amongst you who aren’t familiar with the Pew Research Center I’ll explain a little about it. The Pew Research Center is a non-partisan organization that studies trends and issues affecting the United States and world such as culture, religion, societal demographics, the influence of religion on societies, et cetera through ascertaining facts via surveys, data analysis, and other forms of observation and scientific research.

What makes the Pew study interesting is that it has observed different nations that self-identify as Christian. This study is also considered one of the most reliable forms of data compilation and observation according to USAToday.

As I delved deeper in my research to find facts about Christianity in Africa I discovered that Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ethiopia share the largest numbers of self-identifying Christians on the African continent with Nigeria having 50.8%, DR of Congo having 95.7%, and Ethiopia sharing 63.4% self-identifying Christians. What is remarkable is that Nigeria alone has doubled more in Protestants than Germany. Don’t forget that the Protestant Reformation began in Germany! Nigeria also shares approximately 50% Muslim population which means that according to this report nearly the entire country follows Judeo-Christian belief systems!

Other African countries with high Christian populations include Angola (88.2%), Uganda (86.7%), South Africa (80.9%), Ghana (74.9%), amongst others.

Looking at these facts it is quite obvious that Christianity has maintained a very strong presence in Africa.

The CIA corroborates similar information about the large Christian population in Nigeria showing 40% Christian, 50% Muslim, and 10% indigenous beliefs.

These facts are important to take into consideration because some folks are ignoring reality or maybe not paying attention. If you noticed I placed some emphasis on Nigeria and that admittedly is not by accident.

I believe that some facts need to be brought to light. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. It also has the largest black population in the world with Brasil retaining the second largest black population on the planet. Yet statistically approximately 50% of the population is either Christian or Muslim. Because of this small fact Nigeria has the largest Christian population on the African continent.

The four largest groups in Nigeria are Hausa, Fulani (which many consider the same as Hausa), Yoruba, and Igbo. The Hausa-Fulani dominate the north and are Muslim. The Yoruba live in the southeast while the Igbo live in the southwest. Most Yoruba and Igbo peoples are Christian. In fact the Igbos were one of the first groups to convert to Christianity with a high percentage of Catholics while different Christian sects have spread in Yorubaland especially the Aladura Christian group.

It was easy for missionaries to convert the Igbo because Ibo societies unlike many surrounding West African groups were considered democratic with no centralized authority. That means that denizens in most Igbo clans had an equal say in governing tribal affairs and issues affecting those groups. There are exceptions of course with some greater Igbo kingdoms. This allowed for the Igbos to self-identify as a Christian culture. The interesting thing about all this is that it is believed that the Igbos are descended from the “lost” Hebrew tribes. The Igbo share many customs, beliefs, and traditions that are similar to the ancient Hebrews therefore many claim to already know God as expressed in Judeo-Christian belief because the beliefs were already within their culture.

I hope these statistical facts enlighten folks on the Internet to the reality of most Africans willingness to self-identify as Christian or at least profess belief in Judeo-Christian systems. God Bless...

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