A survey has revealed that majorities in almost every country in sub-Saharan Africa say that Western music, movies and television have harmed morality in their nation, but majorities in most countries also say they personally like Western entertainment. Only two countries, Tanzania and Ethiopia, had large majorities saying they do not like Western TV, movies and music according to a survey by Pew Research Center.
Furthermore, when compared with people in many other regions of the world, sub-Saharan Africans are highly optimistic that their lives will change for the better.
The new survey released by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life entitled “Tolerance and Tension: Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa” is based on a major public opinion poll exploring religion and society in the region.
It is funded by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation as part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project, which aims to increase people’s knowledge of religion around the world. Conducted in more than 60 languages from December 2008 to April 2009, Pew’s survey gathered information from more than 25,000 people on topics including religious affiliation, commitment to Islam and Christianity, traditional African religious beliefs and practices, interreligious harmony and tensions, and religion and society.
According to the survey, the vast majority of people in many sub-Saharan African nations are deeply committed to one or the other of the world’s two largest religions, Christianity and Islam, and yet many continue to practice elements of traditional African religions.
The study further revealed that many also favor making the Bible or Sharia law the official law of their country and many Muslims and Christians describe members of the other faith as tolerant and honest.
According to the surveyors, the countries were selected to represent different geographical areas and reflect different colonial histories, linguistic backgrounds and religious compositions. In total, the nations surveyed contain three-quarters of the population of sub-Saharan Africa.
While 90 percent or more of the respondents in most of the countries surveyed identify as Christian or Muslim, many people retain beliefs that are characteristic of traditional African religions, such as belief in the protective powers of sacrifices to spirits and ancestors. Many keep sacred objects such as animal skins and skulls in their homes and consult traditional religious healers when someone in their household is sick.
The report also states that sub-Saharan Africans generally rank crime, corruption and unemployment as bigger problems than religious conflict. However, substantial numbers of people (including nearly six-in-ten Nigerians and Rwandans) say religious conflict is a very big problem in their country.
Furthermore, many Africans reveal their concern about religious extremism, including within their own faith in some countries. Indeed, many Muslims say they are more concerned about Muslim extremism than about Christian extremism, while Christians in Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia say they are more concerned about Christian extremism than about Muslim extremism.
The 19 countries represented in the survey are: Botswana, Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.