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Afrikania's Dilemma: Reframing African Authenticity in a Christian Public Sphere

Marleen de Witte
Etnofoor
Vol. 17, No. 1/2, AUTHENTICITY (2004), pp. 133-155
Published by: Stichting Etnofoor
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25758072
Page Count: 23
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Afrikania's Dilemma: Reframing African Authenticity in a Christian Public Sphere
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Abstract

This paper addresses the dilemma of a neo-traditional religious movement in Ghana. In its project of reviving and modernising the authentic religion of Ghana in the Christian-dominated public sphere, the Afrikania Mission is caught between the shrine priests in the rural areas, whom it tries to mobilise as keepers of 'the real thing', and the dominant, Christian formats and styles of representing religion in the media. Afrikania's struggles for authenticity call for reflection on anthropology's historical legacy in local debates on tradition. These debates are framed by a dualist opposition that does not allow for being modern and authentic at the same time. In order to be modern and civilised, Afrikania has to frame Afrikan Traditional Religion in Christian formats — which is contested by many shrine priests — but in order to be authentic it has to present itself as traditional Other to modern Christianity.

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