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date: 22 February 2018

Christian History and Historiography

Summary and Keywords

Christian presence in Africa has a long and varied history. African congregations represented some of the world’s earliest churches, with lively Coptic and Orthodox communities in both North Africa and present-day Ethiopia. But wide-scale Christian expansion truly began during the proselytization efforts of the 19th-century missionary movement. Success in gaining converts was initially limited, a fact not aided by the perceived ties of missionaries to Western colonial powers. But through the translation and intermediation of a dedicated strata of African evangelists, proselytizers, and preachers, Christianity rapidly became one of the continent’s most popular faiths. The independent church movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries exemplified the determination of Christians across the continent to make the faith a local religion: throwing off white missionary control, thousands of Africans formed their own independent churches that experimented with new modes of Protestant Holiness theology. Transnational links have always been key to the development of Christianity in Africa, with connections to North American African American churches sustaining many of these independent churches. More recently, international networks have also influenced the large charismatic revivals that swept the continent from the 1970s onward. Inspired by itinerant evangelists from both North America and Europe, Africans have formed new churches that stress the “Prosperity Gospel,” deliverance from witchcraft, and the equation of “modernity” with Christianity. Underlying many of these diverse developments has been an ongoing debate regarding the intrinsically African qualities of Christianity: scholars continue to wrestle with understanding the extent and nature of indigenous versus exogenous elements that go into making Christianity—along with Islam—one of the most widely practiced religions on the African continent.

Keywords: Christianity, history, historiography, mission, independent churches, Pentecostal-Charismatic

Missionaries and the Mission Movement

An Evangelical Age of Missions

The long 19th century witnessed dramatically increased Christian proselytization throughout sub-Saharan Africa, arguably constituting the first period of sustained Christian growth across the continent. Of course, Christianity was not a new faith for Africans. As Elias Bongmba’s work on the Christian Coptic culture of Alexandria underscores, ancient churches had comprised majority religions in North Africa and Ethiopia as early as the 4th century, although at different points in time both churches were superseded by Islam.1 And there are also important qualifiers to be made to the portrayal of the 19th century as the missionary period, as the instance of Catholic missions in the kingdom of the Kongo as early as the 15th century demonstrates. Tutored by Portuguese Catholic missionaries, Kongolese monarchs adopted Catholicism as their national religion—in the process boosting trade with the colonials—and gained recognition of their polity by the Roman papacy for almost two hundred years.2 Nonetheless, it remains broadly true that from the early 1780s to the second decade of the 19th century, Protestants’ and Catholics’ keen sense of their obligation to bring the Christian gospel to the “heathen” world seized the conscience and imagination of the worldwide church in an unprecedented manner, both in the English-speaking world and on the European continent. An integral part of this was the evangelical Protestant revivals sweeping both Europe and North America during these decades. These stressed the importance of heartfelt conversion, a personal, direct faith, and a commitment to pursuing holiness in all aspects of the believer’s life. The formation of mission societies was a direct outgrowth of this pietistic, Holiness-focused theology. In 1799, for example, evangelical Anglicans formed their own society for “Missions to Africa and the East,” which later became the Church Missionary Society (CMS). The connections between evangelicalism and missions were complex but can be summarized by a twofold impetus against what was perceived as sinfulness and “idolatry” (at “home,” but also abroad) and a strong desire to save the “perishing heathen”—felt especially acutely in the case of Africa, a continent commonly stereotyped as stocked with witchcraft, superstition, and paganism.3

Commensurate with the evangelical revival was Britain’s rise as an imperial power, and the debates surrounding what it meant to transmit British economy, politics, and culture to the world—and Christianity’s role in this “civilizational” package. Evangelical missionaries realized the practical benefits of Britain’s presence throughout Africa in the form of increased financial and military protection. But they also provided a spiritualizing twist, arguing that Britain occupied a providential role in God’s plan for humanity, and so possessed the “white man’s burden” to uplift and improve the supposedly less fortunate races, transmitting Christianity, civilization, and liberal government to Africans cast as backward and in need of uplift. Celebrated London Missionary Society employee David Livingstone, for example, promoted cotton trade in the central Zambezi on the grounds that it would both drive out the slave trade and promote an overall ethos of Western economic and social progress and development, considered intrinsically in keeping with the tenants of Christianity.4 The relationship between missionaries and imperial enterprise in Africa during this long century cannot simply be reduced to missionaries’ role as handmaidens of colonialism, however. Not all Protestant missionaries in Africa, for example, agreed that commerce was God’s sanctified mode of human economic activity. While originally characterized by their sanction of enterprise and trade, evangelical missionaries in Sierra Leone increasingly disassociated themselves from commercial activity and any involvement in political matters, denouncing the unbridled pursuit of profits. These figures maintained that godliness was solely dependent upon a heartfelt personal conversion and prayerful reading of the scriptures, rather than the supposedly uplifting effects of “civilization.”5 And in South Africa, at least in this early period, it was often Christian missionaries who appealed to the theological tenant of “the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man” to vocally criticize officialdom’s efforts to implement racial segregation.6

In keeping with the tendency of wider Africanist scholarship of this period to celebrate white agency, the literature on Christianity in Africa that emerged during the 19th and early 20th centuries was largely hagiography. Numerous accounts—usually authored by present or former missionaries—told the story of white male missionaries heroically penetrating the interior of the continent (and were subsequently put to use as fund-raising texts for mission societies). On the whole, several generations of authors did not subject missionaries’ ties to imperialism to much, if any, critical scrutiny. For many decades, Christian history in Africa tended to be told in terms of activity and efforts of white male missionaries from Europe or North America, with African converts and women as shadowy background figures.7 Contrasts were drawn between the uplifting message of Christianity and the demoralizing milieu of “heathen religion,” against which both missionaries and African converts struggled. These narratives illustrated missionaries’ pervasive fears of “witchcraft,” and portrayed recent converts’ efforts to endure the assaults of hostile neighbors, family members, and chiefs.8

Yet despite the glowing picture of heroic triumph imparted by these accounts, Christian growth throughout the continent in the 19th century was not substantial. Far from being a mass popular movement, many of earliest converts in sub-Saharan Africa were marginal people who perceived in Christianity and the sanctuary of the mission station a small chance to improve their social standing. Not a few were slaves who arrived bereft at mission stations after purchase, delivery, and escape. This was especially true of Christianity in West Africa, but was also evident on the frontier between Angola and the Belgian Congo, where people formerly enslaved by Ovimbundu traders became Christians through contact with Euro-American missionaries while laboring in Angola.9 Further south, many of those who became Christians in the provinces that would become South Africa (including the still-independent Kingdom of the Zulu) were women and youths who fled to mission stations to pursue security and sustenance, avoiding unwanted marriages, accusations of witchcraft, and overbearing husbands and chiefs.10

Attempting to interpret these early patterns of conversion, scholars have long wrestled with the varied reasons Africans chose Christianity, oscillating between functionalist and intellectualist explanations. While none could deny the appeal of mission-provided medicine and education both in terms of access to new prestige technologies (as was the case with literacy) and to bio-medical techniques,11 others—such as Robin Horton—argued that Christianity’s appeal was primarily that it offered a newly expanded cosmology for interpreting life in a period of dramatic social change and upheaval, displacing the supposedly narrower purview of indigenous religious systems with a “macrocosmic” explanatory system for misfortune, suffering, and eventual redemption.12 Horton’s approach, however, has subsequently been much criticized for its overly intellectualist approach that negated the affective, emotional appeal of Christianity—in Africa as elsewhere—and that falsely cast indigenous religions as exclusively local in scope. Terence Ranger, for example, has pointed to the vast transregional territorial cults of Central Africa as a corrective to Horton’s portrayal of indigenous religions as “microcosmic” in scope.13

Many of these early converts—initially drawn from a demographic of former slaves, women, youths and other figures positioned on the margins of full power in their societies—became important first-generation religious cultural brokers. Hlonipha Mokoena’s work highlights one important instance of this type of Christian intellectual: Magema Fuze, the Anglican early-20th-century South African writer and printer, who creatively melded together elements of both Western and indigenous culture as a means of crafting a new Zulu Christian identity.14 Individuals such as Fuze acted as intermediaries between churches and their wider communities, and they transmitted Christianity’s message in far more effective ways than European and American missionaries constrained by language, ignorance, and prejudice were able to do (for example, the theologian and historian Gabriel M. Setiloane has underscored the constrained, imperfect choices European missionaries frequently made in the area of biblical translation).15 Thus although the hagiographical literature emphasized the centrality of white missionaries, in fact the importance of African evangelists and catechists—often working only loosely “under” their missionary supervisor and in effect enjoying near total independence—cannot be overstated in explaining the dissemination of Christianity. Many early Christian converts and their families began to constitute themselves into a new religious elite, laying the ground for what would be the wide-scale involvement of mission-educated Africans in independence movements and subsequent nationalist governments in the 20th century: Tanzania’s Julius Nyere was a product of Catholic mission education, while in Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda came from a Presbyterian background.16 In the Gold Coast, in southern Africa, and in Kenya, literate consumers of the Bible—known variously as the amakholwa (“the believers”) in southeast Africa and wasomi (“the readers”) in Kenya—used print networks to assemble themselves into a miniscule social elite, invested in values of Western-style progress, education, and the respectable values of the Victorian and Edwardian eras.17

The Emergence of Independent Churches

But while missionary-led Christianity grew only slowly during these years (especially in areas dominated by Islam), a new phenomenon of African-led “independent” Christianity outside of the purview of missionaries was emerging. Arguably, this was where the real dramatic growth in Christianity was taking place. Southern Africa’s Christians led the way, as Africans’ frustration at limited opportunities for black leadership within white-led churches caused clergymen and laity to break from missionary supervision and to form independent churches. From the 1880s onward, Methodists, Congregationalists, and Anglicans split from mission organizations to found churches known by their members as well as by the wider public and the white administration as “Ethiopian” organizations.18 The name suggested these Christians’ interest in identifying themselves with the continent’s ancient tradition of indigenous Christianity—centered in the kingdom of Ethiopia—as well as the value of invoking Ethiopia as a symbol of African political independence, one of the only countries on the continent to retain political sovereignty during the colonial era.19 These were far from purely local impetuses; in South Africa, the involvement of the North American African Methodist Episcopal Church was key in forming an imagined community of transatlantic black Christendom united in their commitment to idioms of self-help, racial uplift, and black independence.20 Independent churches also emerged from more Holiness-focused North American evangelical churches promoting divine healing and stressing the equality of all believers, regardless of clerical standing. Across southern Africa, from the 1920s onward, the faith-healing Illinois-based Christian Catholic Apostolic Church in Zion spawned thousands of independent breakaways, all loyal to the faith healing values of “Zion,” although largely autonomous of white leadership.21 In West Africa, a similar evangelical-schismatic phenomenon known as “Aladura” emerged within the Anglican Church at the time of the 1918 flu pandemic. Yoruba-speaking Anglicans inspired by churches linked to the Illinois Zionist Church broke away from missionaries to form independent churches distinguished by their commitment to faith healing and by believers’ renunciation of medicine and indigenous therapeutic remedies.22 Even earlier than this, though, African converts in this region had been exhibiting signs of religious independency. The Gold Coast’s William Wade Harris—linked first to the Methodists, and then the American Episcopal Mission—independently baptized over 100, 000 converts in an eighteen-month period during 1913–1914.23 Garrick Braide was another early independent pioneer. A former catechist in the Anglican Church, Braide became a massively popular itinerant prophet, holding revival meetings attended by thousands throughout the 1910s during which the renunciation of charms and fetishes was preached.24

Missionaries and colonial officials alike responded to these expressions of black-led Christianity with skepticism and hostility. Both Harris and Braide, for example, spent lengthy periods of time under arrest and imprisonment. In theory, missionaries held their ultimate goal as a self-supporting indigenous church led by African clergy. In practice, the early 20th century saw an increasing retreat from these progressive ideals. Perhaps this process was most obvious in South Africa, where the hardening racist legislation of the state edged missionaries toward increasingly segregated thinking.25 But missionaries across the continent viewed the so-called native separatist churches with great alarm, voicing their “anxiety and misgiving” about the development of “nationalist” or “anti-white” thinking they thought they discerned in independent churches. Others were critical of what they cast as African clergymen’s unwillingness to submit to the discipline of the white mission society, denouncing the “moral laxity and financial incapacity” of many schismatics.26 A very few were more sympathetic. The Lutheran missionary-scholar Bengt Sundkler—posted to northern Zululand in the late 1930s—published a landmark study in 1948 of black Christian independency that distinguished itself by its sensitive interest in the religious and social dynamics that produced independent African Christianity, seeing these churches as legitimate expressions of discontent with white missions. But even Sundkler worried about what he perceived as a tendency to revert to “heathenism” within black-led churches—particularly in the Holiness Zionist churches dominated by charismatic prophetic figures.27 He lamented that Zionists’ enthusiasm for healing, prophecy, and exorcism were evidence of the old religion with merely a Christian gloss upon it, “new wine in old wineskins.”28 But by the 1960s, the era of political independence throughout Africa, the historiography had made a major shift. Far from bemoaning the Africanization of Christianity, now any evidence of indigenous appropriations of the faith was considered most desirable by clerics, theologians, and scholars.

Independent Africa and Independent Christians

Religion for an Independent Continent

The tide of political independence sweeping the continent from the 1950s onward promoted the notion of a quintessentially African identity—independent not only of colonial domination, but also of European religious and cultural influence. As well as the era in which African history emerged as a new discipline, the 1960s was also the decade in which the Journal of Religion in Africa was founded by British missionary historian Andrew Walls. The journal was a decisive attempt to break with the old mode of African church history as the narrative of white missionaries, and to instead tell the stories of African Christians themselves. This was also the period during which several important conferences were held on the African continent, bringing together African, European, and North American scholars and clerics in sustained dialogue on the topic of a genuinely African Christianity; the edited volumes resulting from these events would define the field for decades to come.29 For many Christians in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the success of anti-imperialist independence movements across much of the world underscored the ambiguous relationship between Western mission agencies and European imperialism. Beginning in the 1950s, churches around the world increasingly accused Western missionaries of paternalism, racism, and cultural imperialism, seeing their continued presence as inappropriate in a postcolonial landscape. In 1971, Christian leaders in the Philippines, Kenya, and Argentina called for a moratorium on missionaries to end the dependence of younger churches on older ones; in 1974, the All Africa Conference of Churches, meeting in Lusaka, issued a block on Western missionaries and money sent to Africa, reflecting the period’s widespread conviction that foreign assistance created undesirable dependency and stifled African leadership.30 African authors, many working in Nigerian higher education institutions, began to make their own contributions, with an important article, “Writing African Church History,” published by J. F. Ade Ajayi and E. A. Ayandele in 1969, arguing that Africans should interpret Christianity through their own cultural terms: “an African Church must necessarily be the product of an organic growth on the African soil, an institution in which Christianity is incarnate within the African milieu.”31

The independent churches of Nigeria, Kenya, Congo, South Africa, Swaziland, and those of many other countries seemed perfect candidates for this new focus on African Christianity narrated independently of white missionaries. The 1960s was thus also the period that marked the start of sustained academic interest in these churches as repositories of African tradition and indigenous Christianity. As the religious stars of an independent continent, a huge and glowing historiography developed that uniformly celebrated Zionists, Aladura Christians, and the Roho churches of Kenya as more authentically “African” than the mission churches.32 The large Nazaretha Church in South Africa, for example, was lauded for its openness to ancestral veneration as well as sanctioned polygamy—both keystone practices of historic Zulu culture.33 Scholars’ stress on the African origins of these churches, rather than their indebtedness to a global Christian tradition, was evident in an influential 1967 definition of an African Independent Church as:

A church which has been founded in Africa, by Africans, and primarily for Africans . . . reveal[ing] some major discontinuity with the Christianity of the West in their origin or development . . . the major factors in their development remain African, and for the greater part of their history they have existed without effective fellowship with the wider Christian world.34

Some took this argument further, maintaining that independent churches didn’t merely promote cultural and religious autonomy but also political independence. Terence Ranger argued that independent churches formed a locus of resistance to white rule in Africa; members of these churches were therefore the immediate precursors of the African nationalist politics of the 1950s and 1960s.35 By the 1970s, scholarship on religious independency bore the imprint of the new concerns of symbolic and cultural anthropology. Rather than actual resistance to white rule, the interest was now on how these churches—with their supposed emphasis upon local ritual and symbol—constructed rich webs of cultural meaning that allowed indigenous cosmologies to absorb and transform Western Christianity to their own ends.36 Baptism, speaking in tongues, and prophecy could all function as political tools, symbolically expressing resistance to European capitalism and Western hegemony. Theorists of religious conversion in Africa similarly emphasized the continuity of independent churches with local religions, rather than the element of change. Indeed, one of the period’s paradigmatic debates argued that African conversion to Christianity or Islam was less a movement from an old to a new worldview and more a process whereby a robust and highly adaptable African indigenous cosmology drew upon its own resources to adapt to colonial rule and the transition to capitalist economies.37

Independent and Mission Churches

In fact, this independence-era narrative of independent churches as repositories of African identity and vehicles for proto-nationalist politics needs considerable nuancing. The literature’s obvious strength is the manner in which it took African initiative in church affairs seriously, and sought to move beyond the reductive notion that Christianity was a solely European import to the continent with no traction or saliency among Africans. But many treatments were culturally essentializing, casting the independent churches as emblematic of an “African tradition,” taken as static and timeless, and neglecting—for example—their links to transnational North American evangelicalism. They also drew too rigid a contrast between “authentic” independent churches and supposedly “foreign” mission churches, underplaying the significant growth of the latter in the post-colonial period.38 Overall, the second half of the 20th century was a phase of massive growth in Christian adherence throughout Africa: in 1965, there were approximately 75 million Christians, which by the year 2000 had risen to 351 million. The independent churches across the continent claimed only 10 percent of all Christians (at an approximate 34 million members), however, pointing to the durability and even growth of mission churches. Catholic adherence, for example, increased from 34 million to 175 million, while Protestant numbers rose in this same period from 21 million to 110 million.39

Moreover, in many countries, Christian adherence to mission churches increased despite a troubled relationship between these organizations and newly independent nation-states. Some of the greatest tensions existed in countries that had adopted Marxism as their official ideology. Belying the role of mission-educated Christians in forming the governments of newly independent states, some countries embarked upon thorough-going persecutions of Christian communities in the aftermath of independence.40 In Ethiopia, for example, in 1977 the “National Democratic Revolutionary Programme” mandated the seizure of the land and property of the expatriate churches, as well as the arrest and imprisonment of Ethiopian orthodox archbishops. In Mozambique, a similar process occurred in 1975 in the aftermath of Frelimo’s ascent to power. Jehovah’s Witnesses were particularly vulnerable to harassment, with tens of thousands imprisoned in “re-education camps.”41 It was not only the obvious tensions between Christianity and Marxism that stoked these conflicts but also the effort of many independence-era leaders to construct autocratic regimes and a cult of the leader amid a context of spiraling public debt, a world oil crisis, and persistent regional conflicts. The churches mounted opposition to this. For example, in Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana, the Anglican bishop was dismissed in the 1960s after criticizing the oath of allegiance sworn to the president as a quasi-messiah figure; his statement that the party’s youth movement ignored “the existence and claims of Almighty God” was found unpalatable by the state. In Mobutu’s Zaire Catholic universities, schools and seminaries were expropriated and nationalized after criticizing Mobutu’s declaration of Christmas Day as a national working day, and the replacement of crucifixes in schools and hospitals with the image of the new Messiah, Mobutu himself.42 Many of the independent churches, however, remained fairly politically disengaged throughout this period, arguing that God’s kingdom was not of this earth, and citing New Testament verses to assert that secular leaders demanded respect and obedience.43 But this was always the case. In Kaunda’s Zambia, for example, Alice Lenshina’s “Lumpa Church” was persecuted by the state as a result of its unwillingness to cede authority to secular authorities, exemplified in the church’s refusal to buy and carry the ruling political party’s official membership cards.44

By the 1990s, however, the historiography had belatedly caught up with the continued relevance of the historic mission churches to Africa’s religious landscape. Whereas previously it had been the independent churches that stoked interest as “authentic” examples of Christianity, now there was a revived interest in missionaries in Africa—but adopting a different perspective from the previous hagiographical portrayals. While since the independence era a stubborn African-ness that resisted the erasure of white rule had been in fashion, now scholarly interest lay with probing the “modernity” of Africans and their creative strategies of engagement with the ideological repertoire of colonial powers.45 The publication of Of Revelation and Revolution—Jean and John Comaroff’s two-volume study of the London Missionary Society on the borderlands between South Africa and Botswana—was a watershed moment in highlighting the complex relationship missionaries had with colonial power, and in underscoring Africans’ creative engagement with the cultural capital of Western culture, Christianity, and colonialism.46 Modern Africans were recognized to have transformed European ideology to their own ends: one scholar of colonialism argued that Africans were able to “alter the boundaries of subordination within a seemingly powerful colonial regime.”47 In keeping with these broader trends, foremost on the agenda for scholars of African Christianity in recent years has therefore been the missionary encounter. Africans have emerged in recent studies as creative agents engaged in a “long conversation” with Western missionaries, often taking on, and simultaneously transforming, the ideologies and cultural and material artifacts of their European interlocutors.48 In contrast to the anti-missionary ethos of earlier work, missionaries and their apologists were not always cast as active agents of American or European colonialisms, and indeed, many studies showed that missionaries’ role in colonialism was highly ambivalent; they could critique the imperial enterprise as much as they could support it.49

By the end of the last millennium, a new phenomenon was increasingly being noted within the religious landscape of the continent. This was the rise in Africans’ adherence to Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity, a Holy Spirit–focused variant of Protestantism that in its most recent incarnation stressed the ready availability of God’s blessings to the believer in the form of wealth and health. Juxtaposed against the ethnic-focused, nation-building projects of the immediate post-independence period, these highly transnational churches—also characterized by their heavy use of new electronic and digital media—represented a shift in Africa’s new identity as a globalized, networked continent, fully immersed in new communications technology and media.

Revivals, Pentecostals, and Charismatics

Transnational Pentecostals

In fact, Pentecostal Christianity was far from a new phenomenon to the African continent. The earliest revivals of around 1905–1907 occurred in Korea, India, Wales and, most famously, in Azusa Street in Los Angeles when a diverse, multiracial group of working-class Protestants started “speaking in tongues”—believed by adherents to be the hallmark of the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” They soon dubbed themselves “Pentecostals,” taking their name from the biblical account of the descent of the Holy Spirit at the Jewish Feast of Pentecost described in the Book of Acts.50 Missionary-minded from the start, independent Pentecostals rapidly fanned out across the world as decentralized, self-commissioned missionaries, often setting out with no funding and confident in the belief that God would provide for them. John G. Lake, an American evangelist who had received his Baptism in the Holy Spirit at Azusa Street, was one of the first Pentecostal missionaries in Johannesburg, South Africa. There he helped found a thriving membership of both black and white Pentecostals under the umbrella of his new Apostolic Faith Mission church (taking its name from the Azusa Street group).51 Highlighting the transatlantic saliency of the movement, in Congo, it was British Pentecostal William F. P. Burton who planted the Congo Evangelistic Mission in 1914, while in 1912, the first Pentecostal missionary who arrived in Kenya was from Finland.52 As with earlier missionaries, these foreign Pentecostals worked closely in tandem with local evangelists. Much of the success of Lake’s Pentecostal drive across South Africa was indebted to the energetic and talented evangelizing of one Elias Letwaba, a self-propelled Pentecostal who drew thousands of the Apostolic Faith Mission throughout his career.53 The Gold Coast and Nigeria experienced the advent of Pentecostalism slightly later, in the 1910s, a complex crossover of Dowie’s divine healing movement (in the form of the Philadelphia-based Faith Tabernacle) and a Pentecostal splinter faction within Anglicanism, a development that once again highlights the perennial relevance of transnational—perhaps especially transatlantic—networks in forging Christianity on the African continent.54 In West Africa, as in other parts of the continent, these early Pentecostal churches attracted a youthful, socially aspirational demographic, capitalizing upon the triumphalist, self-improving ethos of Pentecostal Christianity amid a period of repressive colonial rule and increasing racism.

The resurgence of Pentecostalism across Africa in the second half of the century appealed to a similarly youthful constituency. Once again, transnational linkages played a prominent role. In the United States and Europe, a so-called “charismatic” revival was taking place, both within established older Pentecostal denominations but also within existing Protestant and Catholic churches. Finding great success at university campuses, these charismatic revivalists stressed the ecstatic, fervent religiosity of the Holy Spirit and styled themselves as non-hierarchical and egalitarian. It was also within this period that the so-called Prosperity Gospel rose to the fore within Pentecostal-Charismatic denominations, or the teaching that financial success was the natural consequence of a spiritually virtuous life.55 Circulated to sub-Saharan Africa by visiting North American and British evangelists such as Billy Graham and John Stott, as well as university and school networks, charismatic Christianity here too spoke to a youthful, aspirational generation. In Nigeria, especially, the role of Scripture Union classes on university campuses was key, and these already-established regular meetings of university students to study the Bible became conduits for the transmission of the Charismatic revival.56

Inspired by these international influences, new churches formed by African Pentecostals began emerging, many out of the ranks of established Protestant denominations in West Africa, as the pioneering work of Matthew Ojo and Asonzeh Ukah showed in the mid-2000s.57 As Ukah demonstrates, the Redeemed Christian Church in Nigeria was an early example of this: founded in 1952 by Anglican minister Josiah Akindayomi, it had remained small until the student revivals of the 1970s precipitated its growth into one of Nigeria’s largest churches, with an average attendance of 500,000 at the monthly night vigil “Holy Ghost Service” in Lagos, led by Pastor Enoch Adeboye. In Ghana, Mensa Otabil also left the Anglicans in 1984 to form his new International Central Gospel Church, another highly successful organization that similarly drew a university-educated, professional congregation.58 Many of these West African–based Pentecostal-Charismatic churches began conducting missionary work both around the continent and among West Africa–diaspora communities in Europe and the United States. The savvy use of digital and electronic media was, and still is, key to these transnational networks. Otabil’s radio and TV stations broadcast his sermons every Sunday to countries across the continent and more broadly, thus facilitating the rapid transmission of Prosperity Gospel teachings as far south as South Africa.59 By the mid-1990s, the Church of Pentecost was Ghana’s largest Protestant church, while the Pentecostal Assemblies of God was the fastest-growing church in Nairobi. The homegrown Zimbabwean Assemblies of God was second only to the Roman Catholic Church in the country in its numbers. This pattern of massive Pentecostal-Charismatic growth is not consistent across Africa: in Cameroon as many as 50 percent are staunchly “traditionalist,” and born-again charismatic Christianity has yet to take off there.60 Indeed, by and large, it seems to have been in Anglophone former British colonies where Pentecostalism grew most spectacularly, although in recent years, Lusophone countries such as Mozambique and Angola witnessed massive surges in Pentecostal membership, partly due to the presence of the Brazilian Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.61

A lively scholarly debate exists on the significance of these transnational links for contemporary African Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity. Indeed, one of the enduring questions in scholarship on Christianity in Africa has long revolved around its indigenous versus foreign character. As outlined, a dramatic shift occurred in the post-independence period from viewing Christianity as primarily a faith promulgated by white missionaries to an emphasis on the supposed indigeneity of the independent churches. A similar iteration of this debate has more recently revolved around the newer Pentecostal-Charismatic churches, which have dramatically polarized opinion and interpretation. An influential early treatment of Pentecostalism in Africa argued that these churches were the props of an American right-wing neo-imperial conservative agenda. Scholars such as Paul Gifford argued that there was very little that could be considered genuinely “indigenous” about these churches, pointing to their conservative political values and advocacy of individualistic capitalism as well as to believers’ embrace of North American Christianity.62 While Gifford’s assessment of the political and cultural influence of right-wing Americans upon African charismatics is almost certainly overstated, what is indisputable is that many of these organizations operate with a profoundly expanded sense of what constitutes an “African.” Many—especially the large West African mega churches—have huge outposts in the United Kingdom and the United States and aspire not only to minister to the West African diasporic communities of these countries, but also to evangelize and recruit Westerners as members. As the scholarship of Jacob Olupona, Afe Adogame, and Moses O. Biney shows, this is a move church leaders and members label as “reverse mission”—a mandate for the vigorously Christian African continent to re-evangelize the now “godless” West.63 But others have placed far more emphasis upon the intrinsic “Africanness” of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianities. Perhaps the most famous advocate of this approach is the late Ogbu Kalu, who argued for the importance of continuity in narrating the history of Christianity in Africa, and for an intrinsically African charismatic propensity as “a single trail of ferment” throughout history. This, then, was a portrayal of the charismatic revival as a genuinely “African” wave of Christianity—as epitomized, for example, by adherents’ continued attention to malicious evil spirits—that owed nothing to foreign missionary influence.64

Prosperity and Healing in Africa

The success of these home-grown Pentecostal-Charismatic churches is best understood within the turbulent political context of the late 20th century and the early 21st century. The last decades of the 20th century saw the prevalent power of many autocratic regimes displaced by a “second democratic revolution,” in which more than half of sub-Saharan African states initiated political reforms and moved toward multiparty democracy.65 But the changes were short-lived. As historian David Maxwell notes, “newly democratic regimes were compelled to embrace neo-liberal economies of trade liberalization and privatization in the form of structural adjustment programmes ordained by the World Bank and the IMF.”66 While a tiny elite of African entrepreneurs benefited from these changes, for the majority the effect was a worsening economic climate of unemployment, poverty, crime, and violence that was accompanied by increasingly repressive tendencies on the part of newly elected leaders of multiparty regimes. Amid a climate of disillusionment and hopelessness regarding the provision of the state, the fortunes of the new Pentecostal and charismatic churches advanced. In part, this was due to the robust theological critiques of political power Pentecostals seemed able to mount, outstripping the ability of the historic mission churches or the independent churches to call to account those in power. In the West African context, scholars such as Nimi Wariboko and Ruth Marshall have provided subtle assessments of the social impact of Pentecostals’ “political theology,” an alternative politics to that proffered by secular politicians, and one centered on the transformative spiritual-affective experience of being “born again.”67

In addition to their political theology, Pentecostals’ Prosperity Gospel teachings provided a vocabulary that many used to articulate their heartfelt aspirations for wealth and success. Yet this was a model of self-improvement that depended not only on the unreliable provision of the state, but upon individual effort, thriftiness, hard work, and the mutual support networks of churches themselves. Many churches run business seminars that impart basic financial skills to members as well as encourage good money habits, and counsel men to save wages rather than spending them on leisure and socializing.68 To help believers advance, some churches even offer small loans to members seeking to start up small businesses. While this complements the overall ethos of financial success promoted by the prosperity gospel, it also ensures that churches’ tithing program flourishes due to high-earning congregations (members are typically expected to donate 10 percent of their salaries in tithes to their church).69 More generally, the smartly dressed, media-savvy congregations of urban charismatic churches have provided an aspirational role model for many across the continent, powerfully symbolizing the life of untrammeled ease and prosperity true Christians supposedly step into once they access the blessings of the Holy Spirit. Many churches also pioneer self-consciously “modern” theologies of womanhood. Some of the most prominent church leaders run their organizations in tandem with their wives, and argue that a working woman can be God’s blessing to the home, thereby celebrating professional and financial achievements on the part of both women and men.70 And as Ezra Chitando’s work shows, progressive Pentecostals across Africa have equally attempted to redefine traditional notions of male sexuality in the context of the devastating HIV-AIDS epidemic.71 But it is worth noting that this scholarly characterization within the literature of Pentecostal-Charismatics as modern progressives invested in new sexual and gendered values, digital and electronic media, and global networks—implicitly contrasted to the more “traditionalist” independent churches rooted within the sphere of the nation-state—has obscured as much as it has usefully revealed. For one, this portrayal draws too strong a contrast between Pentecostals and what has preceded them, negating the historically demonstrated ability of independent churches to pioneer transnational linkages, as well as to offer new and innovative models of ideal society.72 Moreover, despite the prominence of large urban congregations, the vast majority of Pentecostals in Africa are based in rural areas, and are largely vested in local, small-scale networks with limited access to the Internet and other new technologies.

In addition to the prosperity gospel, it is also the prominent role awarded to discourses of witchcraft and evil—and, most important, how to combat these nefarious forces—that has played a major role in the vast popularity of Pentecostal-Charismatic churches across the continent. One of the most commented-upon features of the continent in recent decades has been the continued saliency of idioms and practices of witchcraft. Scholars have noted that far from declining, the more Africa “modernized,” the more anxiety regarding malignant supernatural forces underpinning the activities of corrupt politicians and businesspeople has continued to circulate in public life and discourse.73 Pentecostal-Charismatic churches have offered a vital voice to this public debate around evil, misfortune, and suffering. Many combine a profoundly Judeo-Christian vocabulary that stresses the reality of demonic forces with a continued respect for indigenous cosmologies populated by witches, sorcerers, and wizards. One scholar of Pentecostalism in Ghana has commented on the simultaneous acceptance and rejection of many aspects of indigenous religion that occurs in these churches, an observation that holds true for many regions around the continent as much as it does for Ghana. Birgit Meyer shows how Ghanaian Pentecostals are counseled to embrace a modernity styled as quintessentially Christian and to rupture themselves from their traditional heritages—cast by their preachers and evangelists as ungodly and backwards. But at the same time, the spiritualized cosmology of Christian rhetoric allows these Pentecostals to continue to pay dues to indigenous religious beliefs by not dismissing or mocking the power of evil spirits.74 Rijk van Dijk similarly demonstrates that Pentecostalism in Ghana promotes a dual understanding of vulnerability: Pentecostal preaching promises liberation from evil spirits yet at same time promotes a necessary vulnerability to spiritual attack required for these acts of deliverance. Some churches—concentrated in but not limited to West Africa—even specialize in a new activity popularly known as “deliverance ministry,” whereby the casting out of evil spirits believed to “bind” believers in their thrall is an essential and hugely popular component of their services. Mountains of Fire and Miracles Ministries, headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, is one of the most well-known examples of a deliverance-focused church, and its founder and “overseer,” Daniel Okukoya, promises to “destroy satanic military technology” by “preparing an army of aggressive prayer warriors and intercessors.”75

One of the consequences of Pentecostals’ polarized portrayal of a militaristic standoff between good and evil is a discernible rise in tensions between these Christians and their Muslim neighbors, especially in West Africa. In seeking to understand these recent dynamics, Lamin Sanneh’s important historical work probing the relationship between Christians and Muslims in West Africa is something of an exception; regrettably, the scholarships of Christianity and Islam still remain largely insulated from each other in the historiographies of both religious traditions.76 However, ample evidence from the historical record points to long histories of relatively peaceful and tolerant co-existence of Muslims and Christians in West and East Africa. Notwithstanding significant religious tensions, Ben Soares and others have highlighted the extensive linkages between Christians and Muslims, most notably in the form of interfaith marriages, religious mixed families, and reverted conversions.77 But in recent years, more aggressive types of Christianity in the form of Pentecostal-Charismatic churches have collided—sometimes with catastrophically violent consequences, as in northern Nigeria—with newer reformist Muslim groups that stress purity and hostility to nonbelievers.78 Some analyses have focused on the underlying similarities between these two revivalist, proselytizing forms of Christianity and Islam, arguing that although superficially different, both of these traditions stress hostility to indigenous culture, use mass media to promote their messages, and specialize in aggressive forms of proselytizing.79 But others—such as J. D. Y. Peel—have argued for fundamental discontinuities between present incarnations of Christianity and Islam in Africa, maintaining that a historically grounded comparative approach reveals significant divergences both in the area of prosperity teachings (while Pentecostals heavily emphasize this, reformist Muslims, by contrast, repudiate the use of prayer for material increase) and in the sphere of politics (Salafist Muslims aim to establish sharia law in the sphere of the state, while Pentecostals largely operate autonomously of political ambitions).80 Finally, an important qualification to a narrative of inevitable conflict and antagonism between these two world faiths has been offered by fascinating evidence of new African religious movements that fuse aspects of Christianity and Islam (one such group in Lagos dubs itself as “Chrislam”) in order to appropriate the spiritual powers of both religious traditions.81 One of the most exciting horizons for Christian growth and change in Africa over the next several decades undoubtedly lies in the continued developments and changes within Christian responses to Islam, the other great world religion of the continent.

Primary Sources

The first port of call for many scholars of Christianity in Africa are the archives of the missionary societies active throughout the continent since the 18th and 19th centuries (and in some cases even earlier). These are scattered across the globe, but several important institutional repositories are the records of the London Mission Society and the Methodist Missionary Society, both at SOAS, University of London, as well as the archives of the Church Mission Society at the University of Birmingham. In North America, the records of the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions are an important resource for students of Christianity in Africa, found in various university libraries including Harvard and Yale. Mission society collections tend to contain correspondence, reports, minutes, journals, photographs, and films as well as the personal papers of many individual missionaries. While they provide a wealth of primary source material relating to the institutional workings of mission societies, the formation of doctrine and the careers of individual missionaries, they tend to provide sparser first-hand accounts from African Christians themselves, although some historians have mined missionary archives for this kind of material to great effect. Archives of material authored, narrated, or created by African Christians themselves is harder to find, although the primary source material of the South African Ibandla lama Nazaretha (published in several volumes by the Edwin Mellen Press)82 is a key resource in this respect. The archives of “New Religious Movements” (created by the academic missiologist Harold Turner) at the University of Birmingham also provide rich detail on the many independent, Holiness-style African-led churches to arise in West Africa during the 20th century. For those interested in writing the history of Pentecostal Christianity in Africa, North American archives tend to yield significant findings, with the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center in Springfield, Missouri, an important resource. Finally, several important visual repositories of photography are also of value to researchers of Christianity in Africa, including the University of Southern California’s International Mission Photography Archives and the online Mundus Gateway to missionary collections in the United Kingdom.

Further Reading

Adogame, Afe. The African Christian Diaspora: New Currents and Emerging Trends in World Christianity. London: Bloomsbury, 2013.Find this resource:

Adogame, Afe, ed. The Public Face of African New Religious Movements in Diaspora: Imagining the Religious “Other.” London: Ashgate, 2014.Find this resource:

Bongmba, Elias Kifon. The Routledge Companion to Christianity in Africa. Routledge: London, 2016.Find this resource:

Campbell, James. Songs of Zion. The African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States and South Africa. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.Find this resource:

Comaroff, Jean, and John Comaroff. Of Revelation and Revolution: Christianity, Colonialism and Consciousness in South Africa, vols. 1 and 2. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991 and 1997.Find this resource:

Gifford, Paul. Ghana’s New Christianity. Pentecostalism in a Globalising African Economy. London: C. Hurst, 2004.Find this resource:

Hastings, Adrian. A History of African Christianity, 1950–1975. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1979.Find this resource:

Isichei, Elizabeth. A History of Christianity in Africa. From Antiquity to the Present. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995.Find this resource:

Kalu, Ogbu. African Pentecostalism: An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.Find this resource:

Meyer, Birgit. Translating the Devil: Religion and Modernity amongst the Ewe in Ghana. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999.Find this resource:

Peel, J. D. Y. Religious Encounter and the Making of the Yoruba. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Spear, Thomas. “African Christianity.” Oxford Bibliographies in African Studies, April 2016.

Sundkler, Bengt, and Christopher Steed. A History of the Church in Africa. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000.Find this resource:

Wariboko, Nimi. Nigerian Pentecostalism. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2014.Find this resource:


(1.) Elias Kifon Bongmba, “Christianity in North Africa,” in The Routledge Companion to Christianity in Africa, ed. E. Bongmba (New York: Routledge, 2016), 25–44; and Elizabeth Isichei, A History of Christianity in Africa: From Antiquity to the Present (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), “Prelude.”

(2.) John Thornton, “The Development of an African Catholic Church in the Kingdom of the Kongo, 1491–,” Journal of African History 25 (1984): 147–167.

(3.) Andrew Walls, “The Evangelical Revival, the Missionary Movement and Africa,” in The Missionary Movement in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission of Faith, ed. A. Walls (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2000), 79–101.

(4.) Brian Stanley, The Bible and the Flag: Protestant Missions and British Imperialism in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Leicester, U.K.: Apollos, 1990).

(5.) Andrew Porter, Religion vs. Empire? British Protestant Missionaries and Overseas Expansion, 1700–1914 (Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 2004), Chapter 4.

(6.) Richard Elphick, The Equality of Believers: Protestant Missionaries and the Racial Politics of South Africa (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012), Chapter 1.

(7.) C. P. Groves, The Planting of Christianity in Africa (London: Lutterworth, 1958); Stephen Neill, Christian Missions (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1964); and Max Warren, The Missionary Movement from Britain in Modern History (London: SCM, 1965).

(8.) For a representative example of this genre, see Joan F. Scutt, The Drums Are Beating: Missionary Life in Swaziland (London: Africa Evangelical Fellowship, 1950).

(9.) David Maxwell, “Freed Slaves, Missionaries and Respectability: The Expansion of the Christian Frontier from Angola to Belgian Congo,” Journal of African History 54.1 (2013): 79–102.

(10.) Norman Etherington, Peasants, Preacher and Politics in Southeast Africa, 1835–1880 (London: Royal Historical Society, 1970).

(11.) Norman Etherington, “Education and Medicine” in Missions and Empire, ed. N. Etherington (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005): 261–284.

(12.) Robin Horton, “African Conversion,” Africa 41 (1971): 85–108.

(13.) Terence Ranger, “Territorial Cults in the History of Central Africa,” Journal of African History 14.4 (1973): 581–597.

(14.) Hlonipha Mokoena, Magema Fuze: The Making of a Kholwa Intellectual (Pietermaritzburg: University of KwaZulu Natal Press, 2011).

(15.) Gabriel M. Setiloane, The Image of God among the Sotho-Tswana (Rotterdam: A. A. Balkema, 1976).

(16.) David Maxwell, “Post-Colonial Christianity” in Cambridge History of Christianity, Vol. 9: World Christianities, ed. Hugh McLeod (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 414.

(17.) J. F. Ade Ajayi, Christian Missions in Nigeria, 1841–1891: The Making of a New Elite (London: Longmans, 1965); and Stephanie Newell, “Entering the Territory of Elites: Literary Activity in Colonial Ghana” in Africa’s Hidden Histories: Person, Text and the Colonial State, ed. Karin Barber (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006), 211–235.

(18.) James Campbell, Songs of Zion: The African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States and South Africa (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 119.

(19.) The classic text on this remains Bengt Sundkler, Bantu Prophets in South Africa (London: Lutterworth, 1948).

(20.) Campbell, Songs of Zion.

(21.) Joel Cabrita, The People’s Zion: South Africa, the United States and a Transatlantic Faith-Healing Movement (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018).

(22.) J. D. Y. Peel, Aladura: A Religious Movement among the Yoruba (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968).

(23.) David A. Shank, “The Legacy of William Wade Harris,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 10.4 (1986): 170–176.

(24.) Israel O. Olofinjana, Twenty Pentecostal Pioneers in Nigeria: Their Lives and Legacy (Xlibris, 2011).

(25.) Elphick, Equality of Believers, 66.

(26.) Paul Mukhubu, Who Are the Independent Churches? (Johannesburg: Skotaville, 1988); and Allen Lea, The Native Separatist Church Movement in South Africa (Johannesburg: Juta, 1927), 21.

(27.) Sundkler, Bantu Prophets, 262–263.

(28.) Sundkler, Bantu Prophets, 278.

(29.) C. G. Baeta, ed., Christianity in Tropical Africa, International African Seminar, University of Ghana, 1965 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968); and Edward Fashole-Luke, ed., Christianity in Independent Africa (London: Collings, 1975).

(30.) Dana Robert, “Shifting Southward: Global Christianity since 1945,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research (2000): 52.

(31.) J. F. Ade Ajayi and E. A. Ayandele, “Writing African Church History” in The Church Crossing Frontiers, eds. Peter Beyerhaus and Carl F. Hallencreutz (Lund: Gleerup, 1969), 90–108.

(32.) Some important examples are Martinus Daneel’s, Old and New in Southern Shona Independent Churches, vol. 1 (Gweru: Mambo Press, 1971); B. Jules-Rosette, African Apostles: Ritual and Conversion in the Church of John Maranke (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1975); and Frederick Welbourn and Bethwell A. Ogot, A Place to Feel at Home: A Study of Two Independent Churches in Western Kenya (London: Oxford University Press, 1966). For a more recent treatment of the Roho churches, see Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton, Women of Fire and Spirit: History, Faith and Gender in Roho Religion in Western Kenya (Oxford: University of Oxford Press, 1996).

(33.) H. J. Becken, “On the Holy Mountain: A Visit to the New Year’s Festival of the Nazaretha Church on Mount Nhlangakazi, 14 January 1967,” Journal of Religion in Africa 1.2 (1968): 138–149.

(34.) H. W. Turner, “A Typology of African Religious Movements,” Journal of Religion in Africa 1.1 (1967): 17–18.

(35.) Terence Ranger, “Connexions between ‘Primary Resistance’ Movements and Modern Mass Nationalism,” Journal of African History 9.3–4 (1968): 437–453. See also George Shepperson and Tom Price, Independent African, John Chilembwe and the Nyasaland Rising of 1915 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1958). For a later treatment of Christianity and politics in Central Africa, see Karen E. Fields, Revival and Rebellion in Colonial Central Africa (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985).

(36.) J. Fernandez, “African Religious Movements,” Annual Review of Anthropology 7 (1978): 195–234; Jean Comaroff, Body of Power, Spirit of Resistance: The Culture and History of a South African People (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986); and Wyatt MacGaffey, Religion and Society in Central Africa: The baKongo of Lower Zaire (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986).

(37.) Horton, “African Conversion,” and also Robin Horton, “On the Rationality of Conversion II,” Africa 45.3 (1975): 219–235.

(38.) Terence Ranger, “Religious Movements and Politics in Sub-Saharan Africa,” African Studies Review 29 (1986): 1–66.

(39.) Maxwell, “Post-Colonial Christianity in Africa,” 401–403.

(40.) J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, “Christianity and Politics in West Africa,” in The Routledge Companion to Christianity in Africa (New York: Routledge, 2016), 351–364.

(41.) Maxwell, “Post-Colonial Christianity,” 406–407.

(42.) Maxwell, “Post-Colonial Christianity,” 407.

(43.) Matthew Schoffeleers, “Ritual Healing and Political Acquiescence: The Case of the Zionist Churches in South Africa,” AFRICA: Journal of the International African Institute 60.1 (1991): 1–25.

(44.) David M. Gordon, “A Tin-Trunk Bible: The Written Word of an Oral Church’ in Religion, Media and Marginality in Modern Africa, eds. Felicitas Becker, Joel Cabrita, and Marie Rodet (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2018).

(45.) Peter Geschiere, The Modernity of Witchcraft: Politics and the Occult in Postcolonial Africa (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1997).

(46.) Jean Comaroff and John Comaroff, Of Revelation and Revolution: Christianity, Colonialism and Consciousness in South Africa, vols. 1 and 2 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991and 1997).

(47.) Frederick Cooper, “Conflict and Connection: Rethinking Colonial African History,” American Historical Review 99.5 (1994): 1518.

(48.) J. D. Y. Peel, Religious Encounter and the Making of the Yoruba (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000). See also Paul Landau, Realm of the Word: Language, Gender and Christianity in a Southern African Kingdom (London: James Currey, 1995).

(49.) Andrew Porter, “Missionaries and Empire: An Overview, 1700–1914,” in Missions and Empire, ed. Norman Etherington (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 40–63.

(50.) Edith Blumhofer, Restoring the Faith: The Assemblies of God, Pentecostalism and American Culture (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993), 71–87.

(51.) Curry R. Blake, John G. Lake’s Writings from Africa (Xulon Press, 2005).

(52.) David Maxwell, “The Soul of the Luba: W. F. Burton, Missionary Ethnography and Belgian Colonial Science,” History and Anthropology 19.4 (2008): 325–351; and Jaakko Lounela, “Finnish Mission Agencies in Kenya,” Mission Studies 31.1 (1996): 235.

(53.) W. F. P. Burton, When God Makes a Pastor: A Biography of Elias Letwaba (London: Victory Press, 1934).

(54.) Adam Mohr, “Capitalism, Chaos and Christian Healing: Faith Tabernacle Congregation in Southern Colonial Ghana, 1918–1926,” Journal of African History 52.1 (2011): 63–83.

(55.) Richard Quebedeaux, The New Charismatics: The Origins, Development and Significance of Neo-Pentecostalism (New York: Doubleday, 1976), Chapters 3–6; and Kate Bowler, Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

(56.) Nimi Wariboko, Nigerian Pentecostalism (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2014), 20–21; and Israel O. Olofinjana, Twenty Pentecostal Pioneers in Nigeria: Their Lives and Legacy (Xlibris, 2011), xx.

(57.) Matthew Ojo, The End-Time Army: Charismatic Movements in Modern Nigeria (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2006); Asonzeh Ukah, A New Paradigm of Pentecostal Power: A Study of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Nigeria (Africa Research and Publications, 2008); and Ogbu Kalu, African Pentecostalism: An Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), chapter 5.

(58.) Kalu, African Pentecostalism, 195.

(59.) Marleen de Witte, “Altar Media’s Living Word: Televised Charismatic Christianity in Ghana,” Journal of Religion in Africa 33.2 (2003): 172–202; and J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, “Of Faith and Visual Alertness: The Message of “Mediatized” Religion in an African Pentecostal Context,” Material Religion: The Journal of Arts, Objects and Belief 1.3 (2005): 336–356.

(60.) Maxwell, “Post-Colonial Christianity,” 403–404.

(61.) Linda van de Kamp, Violent Conversion: Brazilian Pentecostalism and Urban Women in Mozambique (London: James Currey, 2016).

(62.) Paul Gifford, The New Crusaders: Christianity and the New Right in Southern Africa (London: Pluto, 1991).

(63.) Jacob Olupona, “The Changing Face of African Christianity: Reverse Mission in Transnational and Global Perspectives,” in Transnational Africa and Globalization, eds. M. O. Okome and O. Vaughan (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 179; Afe Adogame, The African Christian Diaspora: New Currents and Emerging Trends in World Christianity (London: Bloomsbury, 2013), 169–190; and Moses O. Biney, From Africa to America: Religion and Adaptation amongst Ghanaian Immigrants in New York (New York: New York University Press, 2011).

(64.) Kalu, African Pentecostalism, 4.

(65.) Maxwell, “Post-Colonial Christianity,” 405.

(66.) Maxwell, “Post-Colonial Christianity,” 405.

(67.) Ruth Marshall, Political Spiritualities: The Pentecostal Revolution in Nigeria (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009); and Wariboko, Nigerian Pentecostalism.

(68.) David Maxwell, “Delivered from the Spirit of Poverty? Pentecostalism, Prosperity and Modernity in Zimbabwe,” Journal of Religion in Africa 28.3 (1998): 350–373.

(69.) Birgit Meyer, “Christianity in Africa: From African Independent to Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches,” Annual Review of Anthropology 33 (2004): 459.

(70.) Rekopantswe Mote, “Wombs as God’s Laboratories: Pentecostal Discourses of Femininity in Zimbabwe,” Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 72.4 (2002): 549–568.

(71.) Ezra Chitando, “A New Man for a New Era? Zimbabwean Pentecostalism, Masculinities and the HIV Epidemic,” Missionalia 35.3 (2007): 112–127.

(72.) Cabrita, People’s Zion, chapters 3 and 4.

(73.) Jean Comaroff and John Comaroff, Modernity and its Malcontents: Ritual and Power in Postcolonial Africa (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993); and Peter Geschiere, The Modernity of Witchcraft: Politics and the Occult in Postcolonial Africa (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1997).

(74.) Birgit Meyer, Translating the Devil: Religion and Modernity amongst the Ewe of Ghana (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999).

(75.) Rosalind J. Hackett, “Discourses of Demonization in Africa and Beyond,” Diogenes 50.3 (2003): 65–66.

(76.) Lamin Sanneh, Piety and Power: Muslims and Christians in West Africa (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1996); and Sanneh, The Crown and the Turban: Muslims and West African Pluralism (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1997). Also see Brian Larkin and Birgit Meyer, “Pentecostalism, Islam and Culture: New Religious Movements in West Africa,” in Themes in West Africa’s History, ed. E. K. Akyeampong (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 286–312.

(77.) Ben Soares, “Introduction: Muslim-Christian Encounters in Africa,” in Muslim-Christian Encounters in Africa, ed. Ben Soares (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2006).

(78.) Matthew A. Ojo, “Pentecostal Movements, Islam and the Contest for Public Space in Northern Nigeria,” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 18.2 (2007): 175–188.

(79.) Larkin and Meyer, “Pentecostalism, Islam and Culture,” 286–312.

(80.) J. D. Y. Peel, Christianity, Islam and Orisa-Religion (Berkeley, CA: University of Berkeley Press, 2015).

(81.) Marloes Janson, “Unity through Diversity: A Case-Study of Chrislam in Lagos,” Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 86.4 (2016): 646–672.

(82.) I. Hexham and G. C. Oosthuizen, eds., The Story of Isaiah Shembe: History and Traditions Centered on Ekuphakameni and Mount Nhlangakazi, vol. 1 (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 1996); Hexham and Oosthuizen, eds., The Story of Isaiah Shembe: Early Regional Traditions of the Acts of the Nazarites, vol. 2 (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 1997); and Hexham and Oosthuizen, eds. The Story of Isaiah Shembe: The Continuing Story of the Sun and the Moon, Oral Testimony and the Sacred History of the AmaNazarites under the Leadership of Bishops Johannes Galilee Shembe and Amos Shembe, vol. 3 (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 2001).