by Sarah C.
This article on Gallup Poll’s website compares the religiosity of Americans to the rest of the world. Though not discussed, what’s glaringly obvious is how religious Africans are. For anyone who has been to Africa, this does not come as a surprise. Special holidays and events are celebrated with specially long church services, mosques call for prayer over public loudspeakers and it is not uncommon to hear a DJ play a church song in a nightclub.
I just got back from church, the pews are much fuller than they used to be (my attendance has become frequent). Like everyone else, my list of needs has grown much longer in recent months.
This map has got me thinking. Africans are as religious as is the continent underdeveloped. In looking at the 2008 Human Development Index, Sierra Leone, Congo and Malawi which top the world’s religiosity list are among the world’s 20 least developed countries. At the same time, Norway, Sweden, Japan, France and Denmark are among the world’s 20 most developed countries, yet feature in the 11 least religious countries.
It is not my intent to sound blasphemous, but I question the relationship between religion and development in Africa. It’s more like a chicken and egg question? Are Africans more religious because as a way to cope with the hardships associated with underdevelopment or is Africa more underdeveloped because of religion? How does this correlation play out when comparing development of countries that practise Islam?