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.

Gish Abay – the source of the Blue Nile

Upphovspersoner: Oestigaard, Terje | Abawa Firew, Gedef
Utgivare: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, Agrarian Change, Property and Resources | University of Bergen | Southampton. Boston
År: 2011
Ämnesord: Blue Nile, Gish Abay, ox sacrifice, Religion, rituals, source, water, History of religion, Religionshistoria
The river Nile is by many seen as the most important river in the world. The source of the Blue Nile is a spring called Gish Abay in Ethiopia. This is the source of Gilgal Abay (meaning the little Abay), which is the most voluminous of the some sixty rivers flowing into Lake Tana. Although the Nile Quest has attracted emperors and explorers alike since Antiquity, after the sources of the Nile were discovered the majority of studies have focused on hydrology and not on cultural and religious aspects of the river. Gish Abay has been seen as the outlet of the river Gihon flowing directly from Paradise linking this world with Heaven. The holiness of Abay and the source in particular have had and still have an important role in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Moreover, before the source was Christianised it had a central role in the indigenous religion where lavish ox sacrifices were conducted. Thus, in this article we highlight the ritual and religious role of Gish Abay in a historic perspective.


Upphovsperson: Oestigaard, Terje
Utgivare: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, Agrarian Change, Property and Resources | Oxford
År: 2011
Ämnesord: Cosmogony, Eliade, Religion, Egypt, pyramids, cremation, Archaeology, Arkeologi
Cosmogony as a term is derived from the two Greek words kosmos and genesis. Kosmos refers to the order of the universe and/or the universe as the order, whereas genesis refers to the process of coming into being (Long 1993: 94). Thus, cosmogony has to do with founding myths and the origin and the creation of the gods and cosmos and how the world came into existence. There are schematically several different types of cosmogenic myths classified according to their symbolic structure: (1) creation from nothing, (2) creation from chaos, (3) creation from a cosmic egg, (4) creation from world parents, (5) creation through a process of emergence, and (6) creation through the agency of an earth diver. Several of these motifs and typological forms may be present in a given cosmogenic myth-system, and these types are not mutually exclusive but may rather be used in parallel in creation ororigin myths (Long 1993: 94). There are cosmogenic myths in all religions. In the Hebrew myth, there is creation from nothing: ‘And God said. “Let there be light”; and there was light’ (Gen. 1: 3). Importantly, in transcendental religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam the omnipotent god exists totally independent of its own creation (Trigger 2003: 473), but still there are cosmogenic myths. Usually, however, cosmogony refers to a divine structuring principle where cosmos and the world are not independent of its original creation, but dependent upon the outcome of the ritual relation between humans and deities for its future existence, and such religions are traditionally called cosmogenic, putting the emphasis on human rituals. Thus, there are differences between cosmogenic and transcendental religions with regards to structures of beliefs and practices. A cosmogenic religion links humans’ rituals in the present with the divine glory in the past and cosmic stability and prosperity in the future. Hence, a cosmogenic religion enables and prescribes particular types of ritualpractices which are archaeologically manifest in the material culture, and all the early civilizations have been cosmogenic (Trigger 2003: 444–5) together with the majority of prehistoric religions. Although cosmogony had been an analytical term before Mircea Eliade developed these perspectives, his writings in the 1950s (e.g. Eliade 1954, 1959a [1987]) have strongly influenced researchers’ views of peoples’ beliefs of the world and universe in early civilizations (Trigger 2003: 445). Cosmogony as a religious framework for understanding the world and the universe necessitates specific types of interactions and rituals with the divinities. Hence, due to the strong influence of Eliade’s work on cosmogony as a principleand process, this article will focus on (1) his premises and analyses, (2) criticism and development of cosmogony as a concept, and (3) how it is possible to analyse cosmogenic rituals and religious practices as manifest in the archaeological record. This will include:(a) rituals, with particular emphasis on death and sacrifices in the Aztec civilization; and(b) monuments, with particular emphasis on the pyramids in the ancient Egyptian civilization, since these are processes and places where the dual interaction between humans and divinities took place, which recreated cosmos against the threat of chaos. Together, these case studies will illuminate the possibilities of a cosmogenic perspective in the archaeology of ritual and religion despite the difficulties with Eliade’s structural universalism.


Upphovsperson: Oestigaard, Terje
Utgivare: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, Agrarian Change, Property and Resources | Oxford
År: 2011
Ämnesord: water, Religion, rituals, Archaeology, Archaeology, Arkeologi
Water in the archaeology of ritual and religion includes water as a perspective and water as empirical data. The life-giving waters in society and religion are the fresh waters in their many facets in the hydrological cycle. Water is always in a flux. The fluid matter changes qualities and capacities wherever it is, and it always takes new forms. This transformative character of water is forcefully used in ritual practices and religious constructions. Water represents the one and the many at the same time, and the plurality of ritual institutionalizations and religious perceptions puts emphasis on water’s structuring principles and processes in culture and the cosmos. Water is fundamental in many ritual practices and to conceptions of the divinities and cosmos in prehistoric religions, and consequently the study of water in ritual and religion may reveal insights into both what religion is and how devotees perceive themselves, the divine spheres, and their own religious practices and rituals. The pervasive role of water-worlds in society and cosmos unites micro and macro cosmos, creates life, and legitimizes social hierarchies and religious practices and beliefs. Water is a medium which links or changes totally different aspects of humanity and divinities into a coherent unit; it bridges paradoxes, transcends the differenthuman and divine realms, allows interactions with gods, and enables the divinities to interfere with humanity. Water is a medium for everything—it has human character because we are humans; it is a social matter but also a spiritual substance and divine manifestation with immanent powers; and, still, it belongs to the realm of nature as a fluid liquid. The hydrological cycle links all places and spheres together, and water transcends the common categories by which we conceptualize the world and cosmos (Tvedt and Oestigaard 2006). The religious water-worlds, cosmologies, beliefs, and ritual practices are evident in the archaeological record, mythology, and written sources. Hence, it is necessaryto identify different types of water, the particular qualities associated with each of them,and how water materializes as religious and ritual structures, practices, and beliefs.

Nyckeln till paradiset : sengalesiska kvinnors livsvägar

Upphovsperson: Evers Rosander, Eva
Utgivare: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet | Nordiska Afrikainstitutet; Carlssons förlag
År: 2011
Ämnesord: Religion, Islam, Sufism, Kvinnor, Senegalesiskor, Senegal, Familjer, Levnadsförhållanden, Ekonomiska förhållanden, Sociala förhållanden, diaspora, Immigranter, Teneriffa, SOCIAL SCIENCES, SAMHÄLLSVETENSKAP
Mouridismen är en sufiorden i Senegal som snabbt sprider sig med de senegalesiska emigranterna. Tron är stark bland anhängarna på att grundaren shaykh Amadou Bamba, hans mor, mame Diarra Bousso och de efterföljande närmaste släktingarna skall kunna hjälpa mouriderna till ett bättre liv på jorden och till ett evgt liv i paradiset. Man brukar säga, att grundaren är huset medan hans mor utgör dörren till paradiset. De gifta kvinnorna antas kunna nå dit endast genom sina mäns förmedling. Lydnad, underkastelse, hänsyn och takt visad gentemot maken utgör hustruns "nyckel " till paradiset. Boken beskriver några senegalesiska mouridkvinnor författaren mött i Senegal och på Teneriffa som immigranter. Författaren skildrar deras livsvägar med fokus på religion, ekonomi, handel och familjeliv. På vad sätt skiljer sig kvinnornas livsvillkor i hemlandet från vad de möter i diasporan? Hur uppnår de sina mål?

Social welfare in Muslim societies in Africa

Upphovsperson: Weiss, Holger
Utgivare: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet | Uppsala : Nordiska Afrikainstitutet
År: 2002
Ämnesord: economics, Educations, Islamic Countries, Religion, Social welfare, Sufism, Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, SOCIAL SCIENCES, SAMHÄLLSVETENSKAP
In recent decades there has been an increasing attempt by Muslim intellectuals to reflect on the provision of social welfare in Muslim societies in Africa. One reason for this is the few, if not non-existent, possibilities of the states to provide for the basic needs of their subjects, a situation that has become painfully evident in most African states not only the Muslim ones. However, public as well as private provision of social welfare is not a new phenomenon in the Muslim world. Whereas government and public involvement in the provision of social welfare has been haphazard, despite various attempts at direct state involvement especially in the post-colonial world, private and what might be labelled semi-official activities, such as the establishment of pious foundations and the activities of the Sufi orders, have a solid foundation in local Muslim societies in Africa. This book attempts to emphasise the variety of both agents and ways to provide social welfare in Muslim societies in Africa. In addition, social welfare, as such, is both reflected upon and debated by Muslim intellectuals. The aim of this book has therefore been to capture both the theoretical as well as the actual dimension of social welfare.