“An important contribution to the field. Its emphasis on the examination of Christianity as a religious phenomenon is an important one, and one increasingly recognized as of central significance for an understanding of Africa’s history and society.”
Kevin Ward, University of Leeds
Christianity has been spread in Africa by Africans. It is the story of peoples seizing control of their own spiritual destinies—rather than the commonplace notion that the continent's Christian churches represent colonial and capitalist powers that helped subdue Africans to European domination. In short, once introduced, Christianity took on a powerful life of its own and spun out of the control of those who would retain ownership of doctrine and practice. East African Expressions of Christianity examines the experiences of African Christians as they explored the new faith, interpreted it in the context of their own values, appropriated it for themselves, and forged their own distinctive churches. Prominent Tanzanian and American historians, anthropologists, political scientists, and church people examine the translation of religious meanings across cultural boundaries; the religious and social appeal of the new faith; and the vital roles played by African evangelists, teachers, and translators in the spread of Christianity and the development of an African church.
Thomas Spear received his doctorate in history at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He has written histories of Zwangendaba’s Ngoni, the Mijikenda (The Kaya Complex), eastern and central Kenya (Kenya’s Past), The Swahili (with Derek Nurse); and the Meru and Arusha peoples of Tanzania (Mountain Farmers). Formerly at La Trobe University and Williams College, he is professor of history emeritus at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. More info →
Isaria N. Kimambo is a professor of history at the University of Dar es Salaam. More info →
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In the West we are accustomed to think of religion as centered in the personal quest for salvation or the longing for unchanging Being. Perhaps this is why we have found it so difficult to understand the religions of Africa. These religions are oriented to very different goals: fecundity, prosperity, health, social harmony.
This book considers the rise of born-again Christianity in Africa through a study of one of the most dynamic Pentecostal movements. David Maxwell traces the transformation of the prophet Ezekiel Guti and his prayer band from small beginnings in the townships of the 1950s into the present-day transnational business enterprise, which is now the Zimbabwe Assemblies of God.
Religious activities have been of continuing importance in the rise of protest against postcolonial governments in Eastern Africa. Issues considered include attempts by government to “manage” religious affairs in both Muslim and Christian areas; religious denominations as surrogate oppositions to one-party-state regimes and as advocates of human rights; Islamic fundamentalism before and after the end of the Cold War; and Christian churches as NGOs in the age of structural adjustment.
“No nation can win a battle without faith,” Steve Biko wrote, and as Daniel R. Magaziner demonstrates in The Law and the Prophets, the combination of ideological and theological exploration proved a potent force. The 1970s are a decade virtually lost to South African historiography. This span of years bridged the banning and exile of the country’s best-known antiapartheid leaders in the early 1960s and the furious protests that erupted after the Soweto uprisings of June 16, 1976.