Libmonster ID: U.S.-1357
Author(s) of the publication: L. A. ANDREEVA

(According to sociological research)


Doctor of Philosophy

Institute of Africa, Russian Academy of Sciences

religion Keywords:christianity, Sub-Saharan Africa

The history of Christianity in Africa dates back about two thousand years, and its spread began in the second century AD in Egypt and Ethiopia. The main event of the early Christian era was the formation of the Monophysite Church in the fourth century AD, which united the Christians of Egypt and Ethiopia. The next stage of Christianization is associated with the beginning of the colonial expansion of Catholic Portugal in the XV century, but only from the middle of the XIX century, when European countries began to seize vast territories on the African continent, it was possible to talk about the mass conversion of the local population.

The religious affiliation of the colonizing country was automatically transferred to the controlled territory as an attempt to Christianize the population. Thus, the contours of the Protestant and Catholic regions of modern Africa were predetermined by the colonizing countries.

The greatest success in Christianizing Africans was achieved by missionary orders and Roman Catholic societies. ("White Fathers", "Society of the African Mission", etc.) and Protestant churches.

In the mid-twentieth century, after the collapse of colonialism, a new stage of Christianization began. In 1951, Pope Pius XII addressed Catholics with an encyclical in which he stressed the need to modify the activities of the Church in the colonies and semi-colonies in accordance with and with the maximum adaptation of religion to local conditions. In line with the new policy, decisions were also taken, for example, by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), which granted Africans the right to conduct services in local languages, the ability to beat drums and dance during mass. This stage of the Christianization of Africa is characterized primarily by syncretism - the fusion of some elements of local religions with Christianity.


The most reliable information about the extent of the spread of Christianity in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is presented in the materials prepared during the implementation of the project "The Pew Forum on Religion&Public Life"1 on monitoring religious life, conducted by the American sociological center The Pew Research Center, which specializes in public opinion polls, demographic research, and media content analysis and other empirical studies 2.

According to The Pew Forum, the largest number of African Christians is concentrated in 10 countries in the region: Nigeria (80.5 million; 50.6% of the total population and 3.7% of the world's Christians); the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (63.2 million, 95.7% and 2.9%, respectively); Ethiopia (62.6 million; 63.4% and 2.4%); South Africa (40.6 million; 80.9% and 1.9%); Kenya (34.3 million; 84.8% and 1.6%); Uganda (29 million; 86.7% and 1.3%); Tanzania (26.7 million; 59.6% and 1.2%); Ghana (18.3 million; 74.9% and 0.8%); Angola (16.8 million; 88.2% and 0.8%) and Madagascar (15.4 million; 74.5% and 0.7%). Thus, a total of 377.4 million people live in these countries. Christians**, which is 69.8% of the population of these countries and 17.3% of the global number of adherents of this religion 3.

* The Christological doctrine in Christianity, which postulates the existence of only one-Divine nature - in Jesus Christ and rejects his human nature as seeming, deceptive.

** Such high numbers of African Christians should be approached with some caution, given the large spread of dual faiths when religious identity is still not well established.

page 38

The number of Protestants in the SSA countries reaches 295.5 million (57.2% of the total number of Christians in the region), Catholics - 176.0 million (34.1%), Orthodox - 4.0 million (7.8%), adherents of other Christian denominations - about 480 thousand (0.9%)4.

Thus, in terms of the number of adherents, the first place is confidently held by Protestant denominations (as of the end of 2010). Approximately half of all African Protestants living in sub - Saharan Africa account for two countries-South Africa (36.6 million, 72.9% of the country's population) and Nigeria (59.7 million, 37.7%).

In terms of the share of Protestants in the total population, Liberia leads (76%, 3.04 million people), followed by Zambia (67.8%, 8.9 million), Zimbabwe (66.8%, 8.4 million), Ghana (60.8%, 14.8 million), Kenya (59.6%, 24.2 million). Malawi (55%, 8.2 million), DRC (48.1%, 31.7 million), Uganda (44.4%, 14.8 million), Madagascar (39.2%, 8.1 million), Angola (30.6%, 5.8 million), Tanzania (27.3%, 12.3 million), etc. 5

The success of Protestantism in Africa can be attributed to the use of more flexible methods of work by missionaries of Protestant churches among Africans, their attention to social problems. In addition, Protestantism, as one of the branches of Christianity, has a clearer dogma, easily adapted to local religious traditions. Protestant missionaries rely on the synthesis of Christian ideas and symbols with local tribal cults, biblical teaching with African religious experience, the practice of prophecies, healings, exorcisms of evil spirits, etc. 6

The second largest number of adherents is the Roman Catholic Church. Most Catholics live in countries such as DRC (31.1 million), Tanzania (14.3 million), Uganda (14.1 million) and Angola (10.9 million).

In terms of the share of Catholics in the total population, the leaders are Equatorial Guinea (80.7%, 570 thousand people), Burundi (73.9%, 6.2 million), Angola (56.8%, 10.9 million), Gabon (53.5%, 810 thousand), Rwanda (49.5%, 5.3 million), DRC (47.3% 31.2 million), Lesotho (45.7%, 990 thousand), Uganda (42.2%, 14.1 million), South Sudan (39.7%, 4.3 million), Cameroon (38.6%, 7.65 million), Madagascar (35%, 7.3 million), Tanzania (31.8%, 14.3 million), Central African Republic (28.5%, 1.3 million), Mozambique (28.4%, 6.6 million), Malawi (26.2%, 3.9 million), Ivory Coast (21.4%, 4.2 million), Kenya (22.1%, 8.9 million), etc. 7.

The spread of Catholicism in Africa is due, on the one hand, to population growth, and, on the other, to changes in Vatican policy in the post - colonial era, which was primarily reflected in the papal encyclicals. In 1951, the aforementioned encyclical of Pius XII "Evangelii Praecones" ("Evangelical Proclamation") appeared, in 1957 - "FideiDonum" ("Gift of Faith"), in 1959 - the encyclical of John XXIII "Princeps Pastorum" ("Supreme Shepherd"). These documents set out a program of missionary activity, the main provisions of which are, in addition to taking into account local conditions, the training of priests and the church hierarchy from the local population, the "Africanization" of church life, the synthesis of certain aspects of local and Christian cults, the spread of the influence of the Catholic Church on young people and educated segments of the population, etc.

"Out of the youth brought up in this spirit," says the 1951 encyclical, "will come future leaders of states, and the masses of the people will follow them as leaders, as teachers." 8

The current Pope Benedict XVI is also active in African politics, having traveled to Cameroon and Angola in 2009, and to Benin in 2011, where he voiced an appeal to African Catholics "Africae munus" ("Africa's Challenge").9. Its main message on the socio-political sphere is that Africa needs effective public administration, which should be expressed in respect for the Constitution, free elections, ensuring the independence of the judiciary, fighting corruption, using natural resources for the common good, and caring for valuable resources such as water and the earth. One of the central places of the message was occupied by the topic of dialogue between Christian and traditional African religions, including with the aim of understanding what corresponds to the Gospel in them, and what relates to" witchcraft " practice.

Thus, the era of the fall of colonialism in Africa gave rise to a new "African" policy of the Vatican. It was necessary to destroy the stereotype of the Catholic priest as an agent of white colonialists, hence the urgent need to" Africanize " Christianity, to address social, political, and humanitarian issues in the life of the continent. It can be stated that this policy, at this stage, has brought success to the Roman Catholic Church. In contrast to secular Europe, Africa is becoming the Vatican's hope.

However, behind the Vatican's success, it is not difficult to see both existing and future problems. The success of Catholicism was made possible, to a large extent, by dualism and religious syncretism, despite the denial of this on the part of the Vatican. It is clear that this will affect both the dogmatic teaching of the Catholic Church and the cult practice. In the foreseeable future, we can foresee changes in the Roman Curia itself, due to the growth in the size of the African episcopate, which will require proportional representation in the highest church administration. Protestant denominations compete strongly with the Roman Catholic Church. Co-existence with the adherents of Islam is another problem.

The third place among the Christian confessions and denominations of the region is occupied by the Ancient Eastern Orthodox Christian churches. The vast majority of their adherents are in Ethiopia (36 million, 43.5% of the country's population) and Eritrea (3 million, 57.7%). The Ethiopian Orthodox (Orthodox) Church of Monotheism (Tewahedo10) is one of the oldest Christian Monophysite churches in the world, adhering to the thesis of the inseparability of the human and divine nature of Christ, so it has the word Tewahedo (monotheism) in its self-name. Since its foundation in the fourth century. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church was subordinated to the ancient Eastern Christian Church.

page 39

Coptic Church: An Egyptian metropolitan was appointed from Alexandria 11.

Since 1959. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church became fully independent. After the independence of Eritrea in 1993, the autocephalous Eritrean Orthodox Church was separated from the Ethiopian Church, which remained faithful to the Monophysite doctrine.

There is also a large Orthodox community in Kenya (650,000 people, 1.6% of the population), which is under the jurisdiction of the Alexandrian Orthodox Church (part of the family of local Orthodox Churches of the Byzantine tradition), carrying out intensive missionary activities also in Tanzania (30,000) and Uganda (about 1,000).


To identify qualitative characteristics of the population's religiosity from December 2008 to April 2009 in the framework of The Pew Forum project in a number of African countries (Mali, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Ghana, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, DRC, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa), which differ in different confessional composition, with a total population reaching 75% of the total number of inhabitants of the continent, a survey of 25 thousand people was conducted 12.

The study found that AYUS is one of the most religious regions in the world. In the 20th century, its religious landscape changed dramatically. If in 1900 76% of the population of the region were adherents of traditional cults, 14% - Muslims and 9% - Christians, in 2000 Christians made up 57%, Muslims-29, adherents of local cults-about 13%13.

1950 was a turning point in the development of the religious situation in Africa. If before that the number of adherents of Islam and Christianity grew slowly and was about the same, then from the middle of the XX century a gradual increase in the number of followers of these religions began, and the rate of spread of Christianity was twice as fast as the rate of Islamization of the local population.

Approximately 90% of the Pew Forum respondents said that religion plays an extremely important role in their lives. However, every fourth Christian in the region remains a dual believer, i.e. at the same time adheres to traditional beliefs.

The level of actual religiosity can be determined by identifying the degree of commitment of Africans to Christian dogmas, which are the foundation of a religious worldview. Thus, according to the survey, 61% of Christians in the region believe in the coming of Christ even during their lifetime, i.e. one can speak of intense eschatological expectation as one of the main features of Christian religiosity in the region.

An important question that clarified the role of religion in the daily life of Africans was the perception of the Holy Scriptures as the legal basis for existence. On average, about 60% of respondents pointed to the Bible as a source of law. In Zambia, this figure was the highest - 77%, in Nigeria and Ghana-70%, Botswana-69, South Africa-66, Uganda-64, Liberia and Mozambique-63, Kenya and Guinea-Bissau-57, Ethiopia-55, DRC and Cameroon-52, Chad-45, Rwanda - 42, Tanzania-39%.

Religious texts as a source of modern law are evidence of the integrity of the religious consciousness of people who strive to be guided by sacred texts in their worldly relations.14 However, this is also a potential source of tension in countries that have a significant number of adherents of Islam. For example, in Nigeria, 71% of Muslims supported Sharia law as the basis of legal life in the country, compared to 63% of the region's Muslim population. A very important indicator of the high potential for conflict is the fact that the majority of the surveyed Christians in the region have a negative attitude towards interfaith marriages.

Thus, the African Christian is characterized by a strong belief in the main provisions of the Christian faith, while often remaining a follower of traditional beliefs. He lives with intense eschatological expectations, recognizes himself as a member of a certain religious community, and is guided in his daily life by Christian and traditional religious norms.

* Eschatology - a system of views and ideas about the end of the world, the afterlife. The Holy Scriptures speak of "the last times" and "the last days," and that the great "Day of the Lord" (the second coming of Christ) will come, when God will execute His judgment on the world that has departed from Him. ed.).


2 Global-Christianity-africa.aspx

3 Global Christianity. A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Christian Population. Washington. D.C., Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life, 2011, p. 81 - 83.

4 Ibid., p. 21,55.

5 Ibid., p. 81 - 83.

Yablokov I. N. 6 Osnovy religiovedeniya [Fundamentals of Religious Studies]. Moscow, 1994, p. 158.

7 Global Christianity.., p. 81 - 83.

8 Herder Korrespondenz. 1972, N 10, p. 504.

9 _20111119_africae-munus_en.html html

Robertson R. 11 Vostochnye khristianskie tserkvi: tserkovno-istoricheskii spravochnik [Eastern Christian Churches: Church and Historical Reference]. St. Petersburg, 1999. By self-designation, the Ancient Eastern Christian churches are "Orthodox", but they recognize the decision of only the first three (in 321, 381 and 431) Ecumenical Councils (another name is pre-Chalcedonian churches, i.e. they do not recognize the decision of the fourth (in 451) - the Council of Chalcedon, as well as subsequent ones). These churches are not part of the family of local Orthodox churches of the Byzantine tradition, nor are they in Eucharistic communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

12; spx


14 Ibidem.


Permanent link to this publication:

Similar publications: LUnited States LWorld Y G


Peter NielsenContacts and other materials (articles, photo, files etc)

Author's official page at Libmonster:

Find other author's materials at: Libmonster (all the World)GoogleYandex

Permanent link for scientific papers (for citations):

L. A. ANDREEVA, CHRISTIANITY IN TROPICAL AFRICA // New-York: Libmonster (LIBMONSTER.COM). Updated: 12.01.2024. URL: (date of access: 21.02.2024).

Found source (search robot):

Publication author(s) - L. A. ANDREEVA:

L. A. ANDREEVA → other publications, search: Libmonster USALibmonster WorldGoogleYandex


Reviews of professional authors
Order by: 
Per page: 
  • There are no comments yet
Related topics
Peter Nielsen
New-York, United States
205 views rating
12.01.2024 (40 days ago)
0 subscribers
0 votes
Related Articles
Catalog: Other 
3 days ago · From Peter Nielsen
Catalog: Literature study 
3 days ago · From Peter Nielsen
Catalog: Geography 
5 days ago · From Peter Nielsen
Catalog: Military science 
9 days ago · From Peter Nielsen
Catalog: Economics 
13 days ago · From Peter Nielsen
Catalog: Art history 
15 days ago · From Peter Nielsen
Catalog: Political science 
16 days ago · From Peter Nielsen
Catalog: Science 
17 days ago · From Peter Nielsen
Catalog: Economics 
19 days ago · From Peter Nielsen
Catalog: Tourism and travel 
21 days ago · From Peter Nielsen

New publications:

Popular with readers:

News from other countries:

LIBMONSTER.COM - U.S. Digital Library

Create your author's collection of articles, books, author's works, biographies, photographic documents, files. Save forever your author's legacy in digital form. Click here to register as an author.
Library Partners


Editorial Contacts
Chat for Authors: U.S. LIVE: We are in social networks:

About · News · For Advertisers

U.S. Digital Library ® All rights reserved.
2014-2024, LIBMONSTER.COM is a part of Libmonster, international library network (open map)
Keeping the heritage of the United States of America


US-Great Britain Sweden Serbia
Russia Belarus Ukraine Kazakhstan Moldova Tajikistan Estonia Russia-2 Belarus-2

Create and store your author's collection at Libmonster: articles, books, studies. Libmonster will spread your heritage all over the world (through a network of affiliates, partner libraries, search engines, social networks). You will be able to share a link to your profile with colleagues, students, readers and other interested parties, in order to acquaint them with your copyright heritage. Once you register, you have more than 100 tools at your disposal to build your own author collection. It's free: it was, it is, and it always will be.

Download app for Android