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  • Hubert Marlin

Africa and the Rise of Religious Fondamentalism


In the editorial commemorating the first anniversary of Flashmag we return to the source, the mother continent, the birthplace of world civilization, you've probably figured we’ll speak about Africa and especially, Africa facing imported religions and religious fundamentalism, albeit Christian or Muslim. Obviously if the belief in metaphysical forces has always existed in all human societies, in Africa religious mysticism has always been central, a cornerstone species; religion is the foundation on which, human development has often entrenched. Also since immemorial time both in Africa or in ancient Rome, Religion always played an important role in society. For the ancients "Satisfied gods will grant you their leniency; bless your fields grow crops and open your trade routes, or fill you markets with refined products. By cons with angry gods, expect the worst disasters; buildings destroyed, devastated fields, and worse "... de facto it is clear that religion has always existed in the continent even under the most primitive forms in some cases. However with time, external contact, and influences and wars, different beliefs in force in the continent will be fought, and in some cases abandoned, returned indefinitely , in favor of beliefs from the West or the East . First to undergo the misdeeds of slavery and colonization African religions will enter in omerta. To destroy peoples one must destroy first their beliefs or pervert them. Certain beliefs nevertheless resisted persecution by finding a way to survive in hiding, or by transmuting. It was only much later that the religious concepts of inculturation and syncretism will emerge. If religion can be defined as the addition of a set of elements: a community + dogma + transcendence + ritual = Being granted a purpose on earth or in the hereafter; However, practice and propagation of revealed religions, has always been at odd with local cultures, and in Africa the phenomenon has always been the basis of many wars and dissensions. From this perspective in West Africa, the rise of Ousmane Dan Fodio (1754-1817) was a major episode of the movement called the Fulani hegemony, during the 17 th, 18 th and 19 th centuries. This movement waging Jihad (holy war) converted by force to Islam, the kingdoms of Fouta Ɓundu, Fouta Djallon and Fouta Tooro between 1650 and 1750. This allowed the formation of these three sultanates in Islamist states, which still exist today, as part of the federal state of modern Nigeria. Worthy heir of Dan Fodio, Shehu in his turn later inspired a number of jihads more in the northwest, placing his locals faithful lieuteants in control of new sultanate. In the Empire of Masina (Mali), Amadou Seku is done first Sultan of Masina. In the Toucouleur Empire (Senegal) El Hadj Umar Tall (who married one of the little daughter of Dan Fodio) takes the reign, and in the emirate of Adamawa (Cameroon, Nigeria) Modibo Adam is made first Emir. Ousmane Dan Fodio and followers of his doctrine can be considered the first true fundamentalists on African soil, as it should be noted that Fodio and his followers have always been opposed to some Africanization of Islam, as in the Christian inculturation when during the first hours of Christianity in Europe and in the East, this principle advocated to give local colors to religion. To be accepted, Christianity had needs to adapt to new flocks. Also cultural conflicts between Jews and Gentiles Christians, continued until Christianity incorporated Greco-Roman culture. A similar inculturation occurred when the Roman Empire fell apart and the Germanic and Medieval cultures became dominant, a process that took several centuries to achieve. The pioneers of inculturation in Christian history are: St. Patrick in Ireland, St Cyril and St Methodius for the Slavs of Eastern Europe. After the schism of 1054, the Roman Catholic Church will be largely restricted in Western Europe. Any attempt to return to the sphere of influence of Middle Eastern cultures with the Crusades and the Latin empire of Constantinople (1204- 1261) will be doomed to failure. The Protestant Reformation created division in the Christian Church. But at the same time the discoveries of new worlds America, Asia, and Africa by the Spanish and Portuguese broadened the contact of Europe with other civilizations ... religious syncretism in turn is only a harmonization of beliefs, synchronization of faith, it is the result of different interactions between different cultures. Thus Daris Sabbatucci, argues that "In the usual terminology of the history of religions, syncretism means the merger of two or more religions, two or more religions in one religious or cultural entity." In this sense, religious syncretism means, the popular amalgam of revealed religions, customs beliefs and rites of earlier time, or any apparent confusion between rituals and doctrines. " Therefore it must be stressed that the most tolerant Islam, in general is soaked in maraboutism, it is this form of Islam that will take root in black Africa accepted by the local population who had managed to make it a kind of outgrowth of their ancestral beliefs. The witch doctor or Marabout becomes that bridge between ancestral memory, and imported beliefs. Therefore beliefs such as Voodoo in Benin, or Iboga in Gabon, which Despite using some elements of Christianity, remain nonetheless deeply rooted in local customs, and this sometimes to the chagrin of the colonizer. However in terms of Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church, will be a little more rigorous in the practice of Christianity in Africa, it will be much more because of political purposes, since Christianity has always been the religion of the colonizing powers, which have often used it as a tool of assimilation and hegemony, making a tool of acculturation and not of inculturation. The inculturation will come much later in the 90 ', with the wave of democratic movements that shake the continent. Also, Pope John Paul II, in several encyclicals and public speeches evoke this term, which will be defined in the Encyclical Redemptoris Missio (redemptive mission) in 1990 as a kind of dialogue between faith and cultures; the Catholic Church for sure this philosophy, was doing a mea culpa on centuries of inflexibility and rigor in Africa. Why with the different mutations experienced by certain beliefs and an observed stability; today the continent is facing a wave of fundamentalism, while it was thought that the continent had already toured the religious question by finding some balance in the way of living its beliefs? To answer this question it’s important at first to get into the global context, as with economic crises in the Western world, Africa, a continent rich in resources is a true target of western protagonists, and destabilization Africa in view its control directly or indirectly contribute to the war economy. African states with stable and strong institutions are a disincentive to the return of the good health of Western economy. The Machiavellian formula that divide and conquer is the essence of the situation in Africa today, why a country like Mali, which was on the way to build strong institutions with a leader like Amadou Toumani Toure, who was about to step down, sank in the whirlwind of political instability? Petroleum resources of northern Mali and uranium from mountains of the Adrar of Ifoghas, in the north of Kidal, have wetted ogre appetite of the west. The curse of the black gold spreads sowing death and desolation in the innocent local peoples. As well as in the Congo, Ivory Coast, Libya, or in southern Sudan, an obscure order of profit struggles to reign in the chaos. Nigeria meanwhile with its mineral resources is no exception to this situation. Georges Clemenceau said: "domestic policy? I make war. Foreign policy? I make war "Cui Bono? Who benefits from the crime should be the question that all Africans should ask themselves more than ever before proceeding to kill each other for reasons far removed from the true objectives. Those who hold decision-making power in the West year after year, continue to influence at least negatively the lives of African peoples in general, are followers of the Malthusian population doctrine, lurking in the shadows. To whom hands would fall an Africa depopulated of its population because of wars? In the proliferation of magic-religious sects and religions in Africa, one must see a clear desire to enslave a people, fundamentalism of Boko Haram or Ansar Dine, only match, the proliferation of new reformist and Christian fundamentalist sects that are financed or inspired by proselytizing, organizations from countries like the United States. In view of the above, Ousmane Sembene in Guelwaar perceives revealed religions not as religions, but as entities destroying beliefs. He makes no distinction between the sacred and the profane. The destruction of historic religious sites in Mali are a telling example, why those calling themselves Muslims would attack other Muslims, isn’t it there a clear desire to enslave a people and take away everything they could be proud of? As well as any benchmark? For the Senegalese filmmaker and writer of lamented memory, inculturation of religions, by the acculturation of indigenous peoples is only appearance in the minds of the characters who are more than ever rooted in their cultural breeding ground. "The penetration of the Christian and Islamic civilizations in Africa has had pernicious and alienating effects on populations. It has at the same time, resulted in a disruption of moral values and a progressive decline of the bases of African religions. These religions contribute not only to deplete the authentic traditional religion, but also they are sources of social divisions and sterilization of all innovative and progressive ideas. " Africans should return in the essence of their ancestral beliefs, or at least revisit the principles governing them, and try to update them in a kind of reculturation by reclaiming some of the principles copied from their original religion that fill the Koran, the Bible, the Torah or monograms of Western esoteric societies, in a sort of self-determination of the faith; because in many ways we are what we believe ... and what is the belief today in Africa? Hubert Marlin Jr. Elingui


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