African resistance to imperialism
The author holds an MA in History and a Ph. D. in International Relations, both from the University of Copenhagen. Since 1985, he has been (senior) research fellow, subsequently programme director at the Copenhagen Peace Research Institute (COPRI), which in 2003 became part of the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS). He served as Secretary General of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) from 1997 to 2000, and has been External Lecturer at the Institute of Political Studies, University of Copenhagen since 1994 and at the Centre of African Studies since 2002.
In the academic year 2003/04, he served as Visiting Associate Professor at the research centre on Development and International Relations (DIR) at Aalborg University, where he is presently external lecturer. In addition to being the author of numerous articles and editor of seven anthologies, he is the author of three books. He is presently writing a two-volume book on Civil Wars, Genocides and Interventions. African Con? icts and Con? ict Management. 2 DIIS REPORT 2006:6 Contents Abstract 5 Executive Summary 6 Preface 8 Religion in Sub-Saharan Africa Traditional Religion What is “Traditional Religion”?
Traditional Religion and Anti-Colonial Struggles Traditional Religion in Modern African Societies Traditional Religion in African Civil Wars Islam The Coming of Islam Islam versus Colonialism The Present Appeal of Islam Islam and Civil Wars in (West) Africa Christianity Christianity and Colonialism Africanisation of Christianity Christianity, Armed Con? icts and Genocide Summary 10 11 12 13 15 17 19 19 20 21 23 25 25 30 33 35 Religion, Con? ict and terrorism in East Africa Clash of Civilisations/Religions in East Africa? Religious Terrorism in East Africa? 36 36 39 East African Case Studies Djibouti Ethiopia
From Axum and the Ethiopian Empire to the Dergue The EPRDF, Ethnicity, Nationalism and Religion The Present Situation Eritrea Sudan Islam in pre-Independence Sudan Independence and the North-South Con? ict The CPA and Darfur 45 45 47 47 50 53 54 57 57 60 65 3 DIIS REPORT 2006:6 Somalia Islam in Somalia through the Ages Civil War and State Collapse Islam, Con? ict, Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism Kenya Cliterodectomy Crisis and Mau Mau Rebellion Independent Kenya The Muslim Communities: Fanaticism and/or Terrorism? Tanzania Colonialism and the Maji-Maji The Independence Compromise Rise of Fanaticism? Uganda
Colonialism and Christianity Civil Wars: from Independence to Museweni From the War of the Spirit(s) to the Lord’s Resistance Army 67 67 70 72 75 75 76 78 82 82 84 85 86 87 87 89 Conclusion 93 Endnotes 95 Defence and Security Studies at DIIS 4 138 DIIS REPORT 2006:6 Abstract The report provides a brief overview of the religious landscape of Africa with a special focus on the role of religion in the continent’s several con? icts. It then proceeds to look at East Africa, where the three religious “families” of traditional religion, Islam and Christianity are all present in large numbers. It does not ?
nd any signi? cant correlation between con? ict propensity or terrorism and religion, neither in the sense that religious diversity gives rise to any “clash of civilizations” nor in the sense that the predominance of any one religion (e. g. Islam) make a country more prone to con? ict or terrorism. It then proceeds to country case studies of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, providing a brief overview of the history of religion and con? ict and an assessment of the present situation and the prospects for the future. 5 DIIS REPORT 2006:6 Executive Summary
The report provides a brief overview of the religious landscape of Africa, exhibiting a more or less even spread of the three main religious “families” of traditional religions, Islam and Christianity, and with a predominance of syncretism. Just as Africa may well be the world’s most religious continent, it may also be the one where the religions are most mixed. Religious elements have been present in many of Africa’s con? icts ever since pre-colonial times, just as European colonialism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries gave rise to resistance movements that were partly inspired by religion – either by traditional religions or Islam.
Since independence, religions has also played a role in various armed con? icts, e. g. in West Africa. The report then “zooms in” on East Africa, where the three religious “families” of traditional religion, Islam and Christianity are all present in large numbers. It does not ? nd any signi? cant correlation between, on the one hand, con? ict propensity or terrorism and, on the other hand, religion – neither in the sense that religious diversity gives rise to any “clash of civilizations” nor in the sense that the predominance of any one religion (e. g. Islam) make a country more prone to con? ict or terrorism. Moreover, the report does not nd East Africa to be particularly prone to terrorism. With the exception of the two almost simultaneous terrorist attacks against U. S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, terrorism has not been much of a problem in East Africa; and most of what is sometimes labelled religious terrorism has much more to do with nationalism than with religion. There is even less support in the available data for the assumption that Islamist terrorism is a serious problem, as most of the region’s religiously-motivated terrorism has been perpetrated by a group calling itself Christian, namely the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda.
The report then proceeds to country case studies of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, providing a brief overview of the history of religion and con? ict and an assessment of the present situation and the prospects for the future. Whereas religion played a role in the struggle against colonialism in Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania, since independence 6 DIIS REPORT 2006:6 religion is only found to have been the decisive factor in the con? ict in Sudan, whereas seemingly religious con?icts in other of the region’s states really been about something else, either nationalism or politics pure and simple. Even in Sudan, the North-South con? ict contains a number of other elements than religion, e. g. a struggle over resources, against marginalisation and for democracy and political rights, while the con? ict in Darfur has virtually nothing to do with religion, pitting two groups of Muslims against each other.
7 DIIS REPORT 2006:6 Preface Even though one might have thought that with modernity and globalisation religion would recede into the background as far as politics and con?icts are concerned, we seem to be witnessing the exact opposite. Contrary to the fashionable secularisation thesis, religion thusseems to be motivating a growing number of people, also as far as their political attitudes and behaviour are concerned – and sometimes this even takes the form of violent struggle. Even though these phenomena are not con? ned to the developing world, but are also found in, for instance, the United States, the manifestations tend to be more violent in these “peripheral regions”, where bizarre spectacles such as riots over Miss World contests in Nigeria, the burning of Danish ?ags and embassies, motivated by a seemingly “trivial” matter as the printing of caricature drawings of the Prophet, seem to have become the order of the day – and where more serious manifestations such as religiously motivated terrorism are also attracting growing attention, mainly because they also a? ect the developed world. There is thus an urgent need for what one might call a “polemology of religion”, i. e. theories of the relationship between religion and con? ict.
1 This theoretical endeavour has however been relegated to a future study, whereas the present one is devoted to the more concrete topic of the relationship between religion and con? ict in Africa, with a special focus on the East Africa, which seems to be attracting the most attention in the West. The paper commences with an overview of the three main religious “families” on the continent, i. e. what is, for lack of a better term, labelled “traditional religion” as well as the various versions of Islam and Christianity.