Religion Crossing Boundaries: Transnational Religious and Social Dynamics in Africa and the New African Diaspora. Edited by Afe Adogame and James V. Spickard. Religion and the Social Order Series, 18. Boston, Massachusetts, USA, Brill 2010. Pp. 280. $53.50.
African Christian Presence in the West: New Immigrant Congregations and Transnational Networks in North America and Europe. Edited by Frieder Ludwig and J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu. Religion in Contemporary Africa Series, 8. Trenton, New Jersey, USA, Africa World Press 2011. Pp. ix + 472. $39.95.
Pentecostal Migrants in Contemporary Zanzibar
This article explores the quest among contemporary pentecostal migrants from mainland Tanzania in Zanzibar to become “saved” Christians. The analysis of a set of techniques and processes applied in developing and keeping faith reveals high levels of suspicion and doubt connected to the perceived presence of evil in the Zanzibari environment, which, in turn, is linked to a fear of losing salvation. With Christian minorities recently having their premises attacked in connection with sociopolitical hostilities in the predominantly Muslim setting of Zanzibar, the case in this article highlights how the context of violence is negotiated in pentecostal modes of suspicion toward the other while, at the same time, it bolsters spiritual growth. This illustrates how a pentecostal ethos intermingles with and provides migrants with ways of interpreting the contemporary setting in which religious belonging is at the fore in present-day calls for Zanzibari political sovereignty and inclusive Union politics.
Undertaken at a time of political tensions, the case study of Zanzibar’s largest Pentecostal church, the City Christian Center, outlines religious belonging as relationally filtered in-between experiences of social insecurity, altered minority / majority positions, and spiritual powers. Hans Olsson shows that Pentecostal Christianity, as a signifier of (un)wanted social change, exemplifies contested processes of becoming in Zanzibar that capitalizes on, and creates meaning out of, religious difference and ambient political tensions.