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Africa?s religious heritage



Syllabus for Independent Study



Reading selected bibliography.  Visit to Believing Africa exhibit on Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA. Evaluate learning by composing an essay comprising the Africa’s religious heritage.



Acquire insight into African religion, giving attention to Christianity and Islam on the African continent, including the contemporary dynamics of African religion, African Christianity, African Islam and the coexistence of these religions in Africa.


1.African Traditional Religions


1.2. Monotheism or Polytheism: the dual aspect

1.3. Worldview and human ethics

1.4. Praxis: dance, divination

1.4. Mythologies

1.5. African Traditional Religions in Diaspora


2.Judaism in Africa

2.1. Ancient presence

2.2. Traditional communities: North Africa, Ethiopia, Songhai, Lemba

2.3. Judaizing Communities


3.Christianity in Africa

3.1. Early Christianity in Africa

3.2. Missionary and Colonizers

3.3 African Initiated Churches

3.4. African Christianity in America


4.Islam in Africa

4.1. The Muslim States

4.2 African Islam in America


5.Contemporary Dynamics

5.1. Expansion of native form of Christianity: African Initiated Churches, Pentecostalism, African Theology

5.2. Rise of Islam

5.3. New Religious Movements

5.4. Religious Conflicts



·         Anderson, Allan Zion and Pentecost: the spirituality and experience of Pentecostal and Zionist/Apostolic Churches in South Africa. Pretoria: University of South Africa Press,  2000

·         Babalola, E. O. Christianity in West Africa. Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria, 1976.

·         Barrett, David B. Schism and renewal in Africa: an analysis of six thousand contemporary religious movements. Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1968.

·         BBC Documentary. Cults: Why East Africa? London, 2000.

·         Bond, George; Walton Johnson, and Sheila Walker, eds. African Christianity. New York, 1979.

·         Evans-Pritchard, E.E. Witchcraft, oracles, and magic among the Azande . New York: Oxford University Press USA, 1976.

·         Frazier, E. Franklin. The Negro Church in America. New York: Schocken Books, 1963.


·         Isichei, Elizabeth. A History of Christianity in Africa: From Antiquity to the Present. Lawrenceville, NJ: Africa World Press, 1995.

·         Kritzeck, James, William Hubert Lewis and J. Spencer Trimingham. Islam in Africa. New York: Van Nostrand-Reinhold Co., 1969.

·         Kurinsky, Samuel. Jews In Africa: Ancient Black African Relations, Fact Paper 19-II

·         Lincoln, C. Eric. The Black Muslims in America. Boston: Beacon, 1973

·         Mbiti, John. African Religions and Philosophy. Oxford: Heinneman, 1991.

·         Olupona, Jacob K. African Traditional Religions in Contemporary Society, NY: Paragon  House, 1991.

·         Olupona, Jacob K. The Study of Yoruba Religious Tradition in Historical Perspective. Numen, Vol. 40, No. 3 (Sep., 1993), pp. 240-273

·         Reis, João José. Rebelião escrava no Brasil: a história do levante dos malês em 1835. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2003.

·         Ritchie, Ian. African Theology and Social Change: An Anthropological Approach. Doctoral Thesis. 1993.

·         Southern African Missiological Society

·         Sulayman Nyang. Islam, Christianity and African Identity. Amana Books, 1984.

·         Trimingham, J. Spencer. The Influence of Islam on Africa. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1968.

·         Various Authors. Y chromosomes traveling south: the cohen modal haplotype and the origins of the Lemba--the "Black Jews of Southern Africa". American Journal of Human Genetics. Feb. 2000  N. 66 (2):674-86.

·         Video. Falasha: Exile of the Black Jews (1983)

·         Zahan, Dominique, The Religion, Spirituality and Thought of Traditional Africa. American Anthropologist. March 1981, Vol. 83, No. 1, pp. 155-156

(C) by Leonardo Alves, 2007

(C) 2004-2008 by Leonardo M. Alves



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