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Andrea Mariko Grant

Abstract

This article explores conflicts around noise and silence in Rwanda’s postgenocide religious soundscape. After the genocide, new Pentecostal (or abarokore) churches grew rapidly in the country and offered up noise and a specific understanding of praise and worship music (guhimbaza Imana) as important ways to enact healing. However, Catholics emphasised silence and viewed the new Pentecostal churches as distracting interlopers. Far from being trivial differences, I argue that these conflicts around sound hint at wider divides in Rwandan society and a worrying new convergence between religious and ethnic identity. Focusing on aural conflicts between Christian denominations can therefore help us gain a better sense of the limits of Pentecostal conversion. Instead of assuming that Pentecostals are necessarily ‘noisy’, I suggest we pay closer attention to the ways in which they may also cultivate silence, and how this relates to wider power structures.

M.H.A. Bolaji

Abstract

Pluralism is a discernible feature of many modern states. However, among the variants of pluralism, religious pluralism appears to be the most intractable in many modern states because faiths and values underpin the conflicts that are associated with it. As one of the legacies of the Enlightenment, secularism is a normative prescription for managing religious pluralism. Nevertheless, while many African states profess to be secular, more often than not there are no concrete strategies to objectify the secular arrangement thereby provoking questions on the status quo. Such was the case with the 2015 Muslims’ protest of discrimination in the public basic and second cycles schools in Ghana. Through primary (interviews and archival and historical documents) and secondary data, this paper examines the protest in light of the secularist arrangement. It first reviews the contours of the secularist’s lenses. Second, it historicizes Muslim-Christian relations in Ghana. It also analyzes the checkered partnership between the state and the Christian missions in the provision of education. Moreover, it evaluates the debates that ensued and the ambivalent communiqué that the National Peace Council (NPC) issued. The paper concludes with a note that underscores the dynamics and tensions that characterize many plural societies in their attempt to objectify the secularist principle.