1st Edition

Religions in Contemporary Africa An Introduction

    256 Pages
    by Routledge

    256 Pages
    by Routledge

    Religions in Contemporary Africa is an accessible and comprehensive introduction to the three main religious traditions on the African continent, African indigenous religions, Christianity and Islam. The book provides a historical overview of these important traditions and focuses on the roles they play in African societies today. It includes social, cultural and political case studies from across the continent on the following topical issues:

    • Witchcraft and modernity
    • Power and politics
    • Conflict and peace
    • Media and popular culture
    • Development
    • Human rights
    • Illness and health
    • Gender and sexuality

    With suggestions for further reading, discussion questions, illustrations and a list of glossary terms this is the ideal textbook for students in religion, African studies and adjacent fields approaching this subject area for the first time. 

    List of Images

    List of abbreviations

    Introduction: Why and How This Book Helps You Understand Religions in Africa

    Part I: Major Religions in Africa

    1. African Indigenous Religions
    2. Christianity in Africa
    3. Islam in Africa
    4. Neo-traditional Religious Movements in Africa
    5. Pentecostal-Charismatic Movements in Africa
    6. Islamic Reform Movements in Africa
    7. Part II: Topical Issues of Religions in Africa

    8. Religion, Witchcraft and Modernity in Africa
    9. Religion, Power and Politics in Africa
    10. Religion, Conflict and Peace in Africa
    11. Religion and Development in Africa
    12. Religion and Human Rights in Africa
    13. Religion, Illness and Health in Africa
    14. Religion and Gender in Africa
    15. Religion and Sexuality in Africa
    16. Religion, Media and Popular Culture in Africa



    Laura S. Grillo earned her PhD in History of Religions from The University of Chicago and is Affiliated Faculty at Georgetown University (USA). Her book, An Intimate Rebuke (2018), was supported by a Research Fellowship at Harvard Divinity School.

    Hassan J. Ndzovu is Senior Lecturer of Religious Studies at Moi University (Kenya), with a PhD from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (South Africa). He has also held two postdoctoral positions, at Freie Universität Berlin (Germany) and Northwestern University (USA).

    Adriaan van Klinken is Associate Professor of Religion and African Studies at the University of Leeds (United Kingdom). He holds a PhD in Religious Studies from Utrecht University (the Netherlands) and was a postdoctoral fellow at SOAS University of London.

    "All three authors are schooled in religious studies and African studies, of which the interdisciplinary features are clearly visible throughout the book. Taking these interests and focuses together, the book offers a splendid teaching tool for undergraduate courses on religion, Africa, and/or African religions."

    - Mariske Westendorp, Reading Religion

    "The well-conceived combination of tradition-specific and thematic chapters help the reader understand Africa’s religious diversity and dynamics in contemporary context and will be just the ticket for my African Religions class."

    – Rosalind I. J. Hackett, University of Tennessee, USA

    "This is a refreshing, creative and informative approach to the religions of Africa in their plurality. The authors have adopted a sound and scholarly engagement with the religions of Africa. The inclusion of case studies, reflective questions for discussions and use of accessible language adds value to the volume. I recommend this volume highly to scholars in the fields of religion, anthropology, sociology, political science, sexuality studies and general readers."

    – Ezra Chitando, Professor of History of Religions, University of Zimbabwe and Theology Consultant on HIV, World Council of Churches

    "By placing African religions at the center rather the margins of religious studies, this textbook gives the discipline’s practitioners the chance to reflect on the absence of African voices and experiences in its classrooms and to imagine a future for the field beyond its imperial and racist roots."

    - Edward E. Curtis IV, Indiana University School of Liberal Arts, Indianapolis, USA, Journal of the American Academy of Religion