Christianity in Africa 2018


Map Code: Ax02445

The nationalist movements that led most of colonial Africa to independence in the years 1958–66 were typically secular, and newly independent nations often nationalized missionary institutions. Yet the growth of Christianity accelerated in the postcolonial period. In some cases, it felt into the continents conflict. In the Rwandan genocide of 1994, long-standing ethnic differences were reinforced by Christian missionaries who perpetuated ethnic divisions. In Sudan a civil war was waged by the militant Islamists government of the Muslim north on the south (1983–2005), which is mainly Christian, a legacy of missionaries associated with British colonialism. In 1900 there were around 9 million Christians in Africa; by 2000 the number had reached an estimated 380 million, of which 147 million were “Renewalists”, such as Pentecostals and Charismatics. As the gospel spread through the remote villages and hamlets of the now independent African states, local Christianity began to define itself in its own cultural terms, producing both reform and the birth of thousands of “African Initiated Churches”. These fast growing new denominations now comprise a third or more of the continents entire population.

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