Fear of a Pagan Planet
If you take the number of Africans who have a "high level of belief and practice" in Traditional African Religion from the 19 countries surveyed recently by the Pew Forum, you get 135 million people.
If you then look at the Sub-Saharan countries not surveyed by Pew (see map below) and use the CIA factbook statistics for "traditional", "animistic", and "indigenous" religions, you get almost 45 million people. [This has been corrected now, I had originally thought the total was higher. See the map below for a detailed country by country breakdown of the numbers.]
That means that there are nearly 200 million Pagans in Africa. In fact, there are probably more than these statistics indicate. For example, many people who regularly participate in traditional ceremonies, visit traditional healers, and hold traditional non-Christian and non-Muslim beliefs were nevertheless counted by Pew as Christians or Muslims while ignoring their Traditional beliefs and practices.
"Pagan" is not a derogatory term. Socrates and Plato were Pagans. The people who gave us our the words "democracy", "republic" and "constitution" were all Pagans. The people who laid the foundations upon which western civilization are built were all Pagans.
But wait, there's more. The people who invented agriculture, writing, cities, roads, metallurgy, architecture, art, music, poetry, dancing, singing, beer, wine, barbecue, parties, plays, novels, geography, astronomy, mathematics, physics, biology, medicine, etc, were all Pagans. Just like 200 million people living in Africa today.
The map below shows the breakdown, by country, of those who continue to follow Traditional African Religions. Countries shaded darker have data from the 2010 Pew study on religion in Sub-Saharan Africa. Other countries have data from CIA/US State Department. Some countries either have no data available or insignificant numbers of traditionalists.
Related Posts on African Traditional Religion:
- You might be a Pagan if .... (Part Deux)
- You might be a Pagan if ....
- Every Picture Tells a Story (still more on Traditional African Religions)
- Traditional African Religions Continue To Thrive