Essay Sample on Saharan Religious History

Published: 2021-06-30
713 words
3 pages
6 min to read
Wesleyan University
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Since the early centuries of 1450 to the present the sub Saharan Africa religious beliefs and practices has greatly changed due to the rise of Islamic and Christianity. These changes were greatly influenced by the religion leaders and also community leaders. There were different methods that were used to impose these changes for example trade with different countries, colonization and decolonization. While continuities include Christianity in Ethiopia which existed even before this time and animism due to the decentralization in Africa. The religious beliefs since 1450 to the present day has greatly and will continue changing with time.


Due to the trade that occurred between the sub-Sahara and the European countries brought the Islamic religion into the region. Also Islamic religion originated from North Africa through the trade of gold and salt. Despite the trade which was of great influence to the introduction of Islamic religion, sub Saharan Africa is surrounded by Islamic religion hence the introduction was inevitable. This came about through exchange of slaves internally. Songhai empire came to existence due to thee fast increase of Muslims in the Sub Saharan African. It became one of the largest Islamic empire in the history (Viera 2007).

However, despite the increased heat of Islamic religion and its growth, the Portuguese merchants from Kongo introduced the roman catholic religion into the region. It faced a lot of resistance but eventually people started following it and accepted it. The high number of slaves being sent to some of the Sub Saharan regions like Angola also contributed to the growth of Christianity in the region of sub-Sahara. Also the Missionaries that inhibited most of African countries had aa major role to play in the introduction and spread of the Christianity in the region this was due to the exchange of slaves from different parts of the African countries. However, their success was not so significant as they expected in most of the African countries as compared to the trading zones like the coastal regions of west Africa where they embraced the religion with open arms. In the sub-Sahara the Christianity was spread through thee written Christian literature that was translated into their native language making it easy for them to read and understand the Christianity religion (Balogun (2011)

Syncretism were the practices that most of the religion believed in and practiced and during this time the merged very well with the African practices and others disagreed. Syncretism occurred in both the Christianity religion and the Islamic religion. Foreigners often describe a typical sub-Saharan inhibitor as incurably religious. This is manifested through their superstitious believes and also their traditional practices.


When the slave trade ended in the 1860s, the Europeans continued converting the Africans into Christianity due to what they termed as the scramble for African. This brought about many missionary schools being developed in the sub Saharan because most of them had been taught the value of education through the churches thy were attending. This did was to make them appreciate the value of Christianity and also as a way of converting them to Christianity. The missionaries tried to win as many Africans as they could through the education system.

On the other hand, the Muslims also built themselves big empire and colonies also trying to get a piece of the African territory. They were trying to compete with the rising Christianity religion which was rising at a greater speed. Through the established colonies the Islamic religion was spread further inland to reach as many people they could. They also established a central place of worship where the gathered and they were taught the Islamic values and also the religion itself.

Despite Syncretism still existing, the Africans were unable to assimilate it into the new religions they were being converted to. Hence some of their believes were abandoned as the embraced their new religion since it could not merge easily with this new religion.


Due to the weakened economic power of the Europeans, they were thrown out of power and by 1960s most of the African countries had gained independence. Despite the independence most of them continued with the religions the were converted to since they felt that it had become part of them. The Muslims continued spreading their Islamic religion all over the regions by even building up Muslim

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