Endangered democracy? : The struggle over secularism and its implications for politics and democracy in Nigeria

Upphovspersoner: Tar, Usman A. | Shettima, Abba Gana
Utgivare: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, Conflict, Displacement and Transformation | Uppsala : Nordiska Afrikainstitutet
År: 2010
Ämnesord: politics, Religion, Secularism, State, Political power, democracy, Islam, Christianity, Cultural pluralism, Religious groups, Political conflicts, Nigeria, Political science, Statsvetenskap
This Discussion Paper critically examines the pivotal role religion plays in Nigerian politics, particularly as it relates to the ways Islamic and Christian identities have been manipulated by competing political elites in their struggle for power. It provides a concise but well-informed history of the evolution of the religious factor in politics and its adverse implications for Nigeria’s democracy. Its point of departure is a critique of the notion of a secular Nigerian state (as prescribed by the constitution), which shows how governments and politicians have taken advantage of constitutional loop holes and used state resources to foster the politicisation of religion, with serious consequences for society at large. Some of the adverse consequences identified include religious conflict, political instability, insecurity and the undermining of the country’s democracy and development. The study carefully peels away the outward display of religious piety by political elites and leaders to reveal some of the underlying personal and narrow calculations. Over time, these calculations have eroded the social elements binding relations in a multi ethnic, multi-religious setting such as Nigeria, and there have been periodic explosions of sectarian and communal violence in various parts of the country. The authors show how the politicisation and ethnicisation of religious differences have further fuelled conflict between competing groups and geopolitical interests in Nigeria and raised serious questions for Nigeria’s democracy, development and the nation-state project. While noting that religion cannot be completely de-linked from politics, the study proffers some suggestions to begin to address and reverse the adverse effects of the intrusion of religion into democratic politics in Nigeria, Africa’s largest country and leading oil producer.

Singing culture : a study of gospel music in Zimbabwe

Upphovsperson: Chitando, Ezra
Utgivare: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet | Uppsala : Nordiska Afrikainstitutet
År: 2002
Ämnesord: Zimbabwe, music, Christianity, Culture, SOCIAL SCIENCES, SAMHÄLLSVETENSKAP
This study examines the historical development, social, political and economic significance of gospel music in Zimbabwe. It approaches music with Christian theological ideas and popular appeal as a cultural phenomenon with manifold implications. Applying a history of religions approach to the study of a widespread religious phenomenon, the study seeks to link religious studies with popular culture. It argues that gospel music represents a valuable entry point into a discussion of contemporary African cultural production. Gospel music successfully blends the musical traditions of Zimbabwe, influences from other African countries, and musical styles from other parts of the world. Through the application of multiple methodological lenses, the study sets out to describe, analyse and interpret gospel music in Zimbabwe during the 1990s. It outlines the historical development of popular music in Zimbabwe, alongside locating the emergence of gospel music in the politically and economically challenging 1990s. The report captures the impact of Christianity on music performances, highlights the various groups of cultural workers who have derived opportunities from gospel music and undertakes an analysis of the context in which gospel music was able to thrive. Through an examination of dominant themes in Zimbabwean gospel music and its creative appropriation of various musical styles, the study illustrates the complexity underlying contemporary African artistic products. This study also seeks to bring to the fore the long-standing issue of the relationship between Christianity and African culture. Although many African theologians, nationalists, missiologists, Non-Governmental Organisation activists and other practitioners have proffered valuable insights, in most instances their efforts have been vitiated by a preoccupation with a frozen view of African culture. Many writers have tended to view African culture as a relic from some glorious past. Although this may please avid cultural nationalists, it obfuscates the inherently adaptive nature of African, and indeed of any other, culture. Consequently, in this study the focus is on gospel music as an integral part of contemporary African culture. By examining gospel music texts, performances by artists and audiences at gospel concerts and television presentations, the study contributes to the discourses on religion and public spaces. The report also brings to the fore the neglected theme of music and the construction of religious and other identities.