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Published 12th July 2002

Vol 43 No 14


Beware false profits

Booming Christian fundamentalist sects make good business but not good politics

Religion is moving fast up the political agenda, as elections loom next year. From antagonistic theological positions, Christian and Muslim fundamentalists explain Nigeria's growing poverty, corruption and crime; as disillusion with mainstream politicians grows, the opposing fundamentalisms grow stronger and the room for dialogue narrows. Islamists demand 'Allah's law not man's law'. They reject a national government headed by a Christian, especially a proselytising Christian like President Olusegun Obasanjo, who delayed the announcement of his presidential ambitions for 2003 while waiting for a message from God. Fundamentalist Christians are just as exclusivist: leaders of the burgeoning Pentecostal movement argue that supporters of the Sharia (Islamic law) criminal code should support it in a separate state. Since civilian rule was restored in 1999, thousands of people have been killed in fighting sparked by the imposition of Sharia in northern states such as Kaduna and Kano. The issue of Sharia has split the North between the Muslim majority, many of whom backed it to fight rising crime, and the Christian minority for whom it represents an attack on civil rights.

Harvesting souls

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Nigeria's popular charismatic movement took root with Joseph Ayo Babalola's Christ Apostolic Church in the 1930s. In the 1970s, the late Benson Idahosa of the Church of God Mission...

Bouteflika digs in

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The President is pleased with the polls but hasn't yet won the war

Islamist violence and Kabyle protests continue, while Algerian militants feature large in the United States' 'war against terrorism'. Yet President Abdelaziz Bouteflika can feel mo...

Last of the dinosaurs

Splits in the ruling party could finally bring the changes the opposition seeks

Most African leaders have at least made a stab at multi-party democracy over the last decade but Togo's President Gnassingbé Eyadéma has never really bothered. Opposi...

Levy at war

As the new President fights the old crowd, even mattresses are weapons

President Levy Mwanawasa has declared war on Frederick Chiluba, the man he replaced at the election last December. Chiluba's friends regard Mwanawasa as weak and ungrateful; they s...

Part of the union

Old quarrels and an old reluctance to pay union dues mark the rebranding of the OAU

South Africa won a narrow points victory in the battles surrounding the launching of the African Union (AC Vol 42 No 14) in Durban this week. At stake is the old Organisation of Af...


Scant aid for AIDS

The International AIDS conference in Barcelona on 7-12 July underlined how Africa bears the brunt of the pandemic. The figures are more alarming than ever. The United Nations estim...

Murky waters

President Fradique de Menezes must perform a tricky balancing act ­ developing the oil sector under transparency rules which donors insist on and keeping his big Nigerian neigh...

Sustainable soup

The UK Bushmeat Campaign has now gathered sufficient momentum to ensure that senior diplomats from Cameroon, Ghana and South Africa attended a 9 July meeting in London.