New Religious Consciousness and the State in Africa: Selected Case Studies / La nouvelle conscience religieuse et l État en Afrique: une étude comparative - article ; n°1 ; vol.64, pg 15-35
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New Religious Consciousness and the State in Africa: Selected Case Studies / La nouvelle conscience religieuse et l'État en Afrique: une étude comparative - article ; n°1 ; vol.64, pg 15-35

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Archives des sciences sociales des religions - Année 1987 - Volume 64 - Numéro 1 - Pages 15-35
21 pages
Source : Persée ; Ministère de la jeunesse, de l’éducation nationale et de la recherche, Direction de l’enseignement supérieur, Sous-direction des bibliothèques et de la documentation.



Publié par
Publié le 01 janvier 1987
Nombre de lectures 20
Langue Français
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo


Bennetta Jules-Rosette
New Religious Consciousness and the State in Africa: Selected
Case Studies / La nouvelle conscience religieuse et l'État en
Afrique: une étude comparative
In: Archives des sciences sociales des religions. N. 64/1, 1987. pp. 15-35.
Citer ce document / Cite this document :
Jules-Rosette Bennetta. New Religious Consciousness and the State in Africa: Selected Case Studies / La nouvelle conscience
religieuse et l'État en Afrique: une étude comparative. In: Archives des sciences sociales des religions. N. 64/1, 1987. pp. 15-35.
doi : 10.3406/assr.1987.2436 Sc soc des Rel. 1987 64 Juillet-septembre) 15-35
Les missions ont exercé une influence considérable sur le dévelop
pement des glises africaines indigènes Elles ont contribué fa on
ner dans des formes souvent contrastées leurs doctrines leurs litur
gies et leurs rituels par amalgame de pratiques chrétiennes et
auteur étudie ici impact social et culturel de ces missions sur
émergence des nouvelles religions en Afrique du centre et du sud et
les tensions inévitables qui en résultent Le phénomène est analysé
dans une perspective socio-historique illustré par exemple de deux
types de réponses données ces formes de communication inter
culturelles le cas de glise des Apôtres de John Maranke et celui
de glise des Apôtres de John Masowe en Rhodesie du sud
By the year 2000 it is expected that Africa will house 351 million Christians
31.2 per cent of the total Christian population representing shift in the
center of Christianity from north to south The World Christian Encyclopedia
estimates total of 32687580 members of indigenous churches and
movements by the mid-1980s Although independent are
still in the minority accounting for approximately 15 per cent of all Christians in
sub-Saharan Africa their phenomenal growth is clearly linked to the history of
missionary efforts cf Davis 1981 178 Yet the relationship is not simple
casual one Missions have triggered mixed reactions in the populations they
served These ambivalent responses are evident in the rise of indigenous
cults and churches
In this discussion shall examine the social and cultural influence of
missionaries on the rise of new religions in central and southern Africa including
the nations of Zaire Zambia Zimbabwe and Malawi The phenomenon of
mission influence primarily during the period of 1910 to 1960 will be analyzed
from sociohistorical perspective as an intercultural communication that can be
used to expand our understanding of the background and growth of new religions
in southern Africa Case studies are drawn from two groups the Apostles of John
Maranke and the Apostles of John Masowe Mission policies greatly affected the
growth of indigenous African churches and helped to shape their doctrine
liturgy and ritual practices The amalgamation of Christian and traditional
religious practices in these churches reflects contrasting orientations toward
official mission policies and doctrines
New religious movements have appeared in areas where there has been
intensive cultural contact with Christian missionaries The historical depth of
contact and the number of missions in given area seem to influence the type and
degree of schismatic and separatist activity With reference to doctrinal base
organizational structure and geographic distribution three types of religious
groups may be designated indigenous or independent churches separatist
churches and neotraditional movements To varying degrees these groups
blend elements of traditional religion with the influence of historic and modern and they represent different types of responses to missionary activities
and control The indigenous churches reject mission control and doctrines while
the separatist groups often attempt to remain within established mission chur
ches The neotraditional movements represent the opposite end of the contin
uum They contain modifications of customary cults and religious practices in
somecombination with Christian elements cf Fernandez 1964 531-49 This
discussion will concentrate primarily on indigenous and separatist churches as
responses to missionary activities
In the case of southern Africa the complex communication between the
missions and the new religions involves
The introduction of biblical texts the vernacular as new interpretative
Material and economic factors land tenure depression economic in
Multiple pressures enhancing cultural continuity
Culture clash between Western and non-Western values between Chris
tianity and custom)
Pressures for the integration of the socially marginal i.e the landless the
young and women into changing society
External political and economic forces imperialism colonialism and
The direct conflict between African customs and mission policies toward
marriage polygyny initiation rites and so-called magical practices was not the
sole source of tension between mission churches and the African population
Increasing colonial economic expansion and considerable tension between the
settlers and the African population characterized southern Africa at the turn of
the century By the 1880s at least seven different European missions were firmly
established in the British areas of central and southern Africa They included the
Church Missionary Society C.M.S.) the London Missionary Society the Scott-
ish Presbyterian church and the White Fathers Within the next two decades
American Baptist Methodist Moravian Seventh Day Adventists and Watch-
tower missions entered the picture The British sphere of influence included
many large missionary settlements
In 1892 Sir Harry Johnston the British Consul for Central Africa issued
certificates of claim permitting European settlers to have freehold tenure of
their lands in Nyasaland now Malawi and Northern Rhodesia now Zambia
Shepperson and Price 1958 15 He included in these claims controversial
non-disturbance clause that stated that African holdings on European estates
should not be removed without prior consent of the colonial administration As
settlers began to pour in competition for land increased The Victoria Falls
Bridge across the Zambezi was opened in 1903 and by 1910 railway extended
from Cape Colony north to the Belgian Congo European prospectors farmers
and speculators increased in the area and so too did the missionary presence
Taylor and Lehmän 1961 10 explain
The railway was not only physical artery for Africa south of the Zambezi
but also an ideological one It introduced new type of European immigrant all
the way up the line from the Cape the railway workers belonged to common
fraternity and. their solidarity embodied the principles that were operative in the
The British South Africa Company with its mining pursuits became the
financial arm of colonialism Copper and zinc were found in the Belgian Congo
and Northern Rhodesia and cheap labor was needed to man the mines railways plantations that supported them This labor was available only if Africans
had an incentive to work for foreign interests Thus in 1910 hut taxes and poll
taxes were levied on all adult males in British Central Africa bringing total
revenue of 95000 during that year Taylor and Lehmän 1961 11 Equally
important as the revenue from social and cultural standpoint was the fact that
taxation forced African men to leave their villages in search of wage labor in the
mines and on European plantations new African proletariat was created by
the mining interests The ideological conditioning of this was executed
by the missionaries
It was into this atmosphere of change and tension that new type of
missionary activity was introduced Missionaries in Nyasaland became con
cerned with the conditions of Africans and with reading to them from scriptures
written in the local vernacular Although these activities may be seen as the
cultural arm of colonial penetration they eventually became the source of
religious protest
Movements of political protest such as the Mashonaland Rebellion of 1896
in Southern Rhodesia might be selected for study along with the appearance of
broad range of millenarian antiwitchcraft and healing cults in central and
southern Africa The years between 1910 and 1927 saw the rise of new separatist
and independent churches and protest movements throughout the African
continent detailed analysis of all of these is not possible here
Joseph Booth an Australian missionary to British Central Africa between
1892 and 1914 played an important religious role as missionary liberal Booth
originally came to Nyasaland as Baptist missionary and after breaking with the
Baptists became associated successively with the Seventh Day Adventists and

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