Religion in Guinea

The Conakry Grand Mosque in Guinea, one of the largest mosques in West Africa.

Guinea is approximately 85 percent Muslim, 8 percent Christian, with 7 percent adhering to indigenous religious beliefs.[1] Much of the population, both Muslim and Christian, also incorporate indigenous African beliefs into their outlook.[2]

Religions

Islam

Guinean Muslims are generally Sunni of Maliki school of jurisprudence, influenced with Sufism,[3] with many Ahmadiyya;[4]

There are relatively few Shi'a in Guinea, although the Shia population is rising.[5]

Christianity

Christian groups include Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and other Evangelical groups. Jehovah's Witnesses are active in the country and recognized by the Government.[6]

Other religions

There is a small Baha'i community. There are small numbers of Hindus, Buddhists, and traditional Chinese religious groups among the expatriate community.[7]

Traditional beliefs

A Sande society helmet mask (1940-1965). The Sande society is a secret women's association.

The Sande society is a is a secret women's association found in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea that initiates girls into adulthood, confers fertility, instills notions of morality and proper sexual comportment, and maintains an interest in the well-being of its members throughout their lives. In addition, Sande champions women's social and political interests and promotes their solidarity vis-a-vis the Poro society, a complementary institution for men. Today this social institution is found among the Bassa, Gola, Kissi, Kpelle, Loma, People and Vai of Liberia.

Throughout the region, the complementarity of men's and women's gender roles – evident in such diverse activities as farming, cloth production, and musical performances – reach full expression. The women's Sande and men's Poro associations alternate political and ritual control of "the land" (a concept embracing the natural and supernatural worlds) for periods of three and four years respectively. During Sande's sovereignty, all signs of the men's society are banished.[8][9]

At the end of this three-year period, the Sande leadership "turns over the land" to its counterparts in the Poro Society for another four years, and after a rest period the ritual cycle begins anew. The alternating three- and four-year initiation cycles for women and men respectively are one example of the widespread use of the numbers 3 and 4 to signify the gender of people, places and events; together the numbers equal seven, a sacred number throughout the region.[10][11]

Religious geography

Muslims constitute a majority in all four major regions of Guinea.[12] Christians are most numerous in Conakry, large cities, the south, and the eastern Forest Region. Indigenous religious beliefs are most prevalent in the Forest Region.[13]

Religious freedom

Formal protections

The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom.[14] The constitution provides for the right of individuals to choose, change, and practice the religion of their choice.[15]

The Guinean government's Secretariat of Religious Affairs aims to promote better relations among religious denominations and ameliorate interethnic tensions. The secretary general of religious affairs appoints six national directors to lead the offices of Christian affairs, Islamic affairs, pilgrimages, places of worship, economic affairs and the endowment, and general inspector.[16]

In Guinean society

In some parts of Guinea, strong familial, communal, cultural, social, or economic pressure discourage conversion from Islam.[17] It has been reported that in the town of Dinguiraye, a holy city for African Muslims, public celebration of non-Muslim religious holidays or festivals are not permitted. Dinguiraye town authorities have also refused permission to build a church within its boundaries.[18]

Ethno-religious violence

There were 3 days of ethno-religious fighting in the city of Nzerekore in July 2013.[19][20] Fighting between ethnic Kpelle, who are Christian or animist, and ethnic Konianke, who are Muslims and close to the larger Malinke ethnic group, left at least 54 dead.[21] The dead included people who were killed with machetes and burned alive.[22] The violence ended after the Guinea military imposed a curfew, and President Conde made a televised appeal for calm.[23]

References

  1. ^ "Guinea 2012 International Religious Freedom Report", US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  2. ^ "Guinea 2012 International Religious Freedom Report", US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  3. ^ v. 14 no. 2 (Summer, 1983)Research in African LiteratureKenneth Harrow, "A Sufi Interpretation of 'Le Regard du Roi'",
  4. ^ J. Gordon Melton, Martin Baumann. Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs. p. 1280.  
  5. ^ "Guinea 2012 International Religious Freedom Report", US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  6. ^ "Guinea 2012 International Religious Freedom Report", US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  7. ^ International Religious Freedom Report 2008: Guinea. United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (29 December 2008). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  8. ^ [Leopold, Robert S. (1983) The Shaping of Men and the Making of Metaphors: The Meaning of White Clay in Poro and Sande Initiation Society Rituals. Anthropology 7(2): 21-42.]
  9. ^ Sawyerr, Harry and S. K. Todd (1970) The Significance of the Numbers Three and Four among the Mende of Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone Studies (n.s.) 26: 29-36.]
  10. ^ [Leopold, Robert S. (1983) The Shaping of Men and the Making of Metaphors: The Meaning of White Clay in Poro and Sande Initiation Society Rituals. Anthropology 7(2): 21-42.
  11. ^ Sawyerr, Harry and S. K. Todd (1970) The Significance of the Numbers Three and Four among the Mende of Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone Studies (n.s.) 26: 29-36.
  12. ^ "Guinea 2012 International Religious Freedom Report", US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  13. ^ "Guinea 2012 International Religious Freedom Report", US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  14. ^ "Guinea 2012 International Religious Freedom Report", US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  15. ^ "Guinea 2012 International Religious Freedom Report", US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  16. ^ "Guinea 2012 International Religious Freedom Report", US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  17. ^ "Guinea 2012 International Religious Freedom Report", US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  18. ^ "Guinea 2012 International Religious Freedom Report", US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  19. ^ "Guinea's Conde appeals for calm after 11 killed in ethnic clashes", Reuters, July 16, 2013.
  20. ^ "Guinean troops deployed after deadly ethnic clashes", BBC Africa, 17 July 2013.
  21. ^ "Guinean troops deployed after deadly ethnic clashes", BBC Africa, 17 July 2013.
  22. ^ "Guinean troops deployed after deadly ethnic clashes", BBC Africa, 17 July 2013.
  23. ^ "Guinean troops deployed after deadly ethnic clashes", BBC Africa, 17 July 2013.
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