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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:African identities: some ways in which Christianity has positively and negatively contributed to their formation and development
Author:Simuchimba, Melvin
Periodical:The Journal of Humanities (Lusaka) (ISSN 1027-7455)
Notes:biblio. refs.
Geographic terms:Subsaharan Africa
Subjects:African identity
ethnic groups
Cultural identity
Human development
Abstract:Africa can be divided into two main groups: Arab-Islamic and Bantu. These two groups also indicate the main religious divisions, the bulk of Sub-Saharan Bantu-speaking people now being adherents of Christianity. With the exception of Ethiopia and Egypt, where the Christian church has a very ancient tradition, Christianity in Africa is a recent phenomenon, although it has to be said that even before the coming of the missionaries most, if not all, Africans believed in a Supreme Creator God as well as ancestral spirits. The way African identity has been shaped since precolonial times can be attributed to a number of factors like the slave trade and all the emotional baggage this entailed in the form of inferiority complexes and the like. Another cogent influence was feedback from the African diaspora, prompting intellectual questioning of the situation in which Africans found themselves. Sometimes ideas were even stimulated by non-Africans like the Belgian priest Placide Frans Tempels and his 'Bantu Philosophy' (1939). Nevertheless, it was Christianity, and to a lesser extent Islam, which contributed greatly to the growth of a pan-African spirituality and concomitantly to a new African identity. African Christianity is still growing and it is producing a number of its own churches. Indubitably, though, Christianity did not always exercise a positive influence, largely because the missionaries failed to perceive anything good in traditional systems, cutting their converts off from what they knew and leaving them to navigate on half digested notions, which left them feeling bereft and directionless. Bibliogr. notes. [ASC Leiden abstract]