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Engaging the Rhetoric of Spiritual Warfare: The Public Face of Aladura in Diaspora

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image of Journal of Religion in Africa

One of the most striking examples of African indigenous religious creativity is the Aladura, a group of churches that emerged in Western Nigeria from the 1920s and 1930s. They are so called because of their penchant for prayer, healing, prophecy, exorcism, trances, visions and dreams. The Aladura made inroads into the European religious landscape in the late 1960s and have continued to grow in numbers. This paper examines their historical development, belief patterns and their appropriation of rituals in diaspora. Aladura's public image, particularly in the European media, has been somewhat controversial. Drawing insights from Great Britain, Italy and Germany, especially relating to the recent 'Thames Torso' ritual murder in Great Britain, the transnational sexual labour trafficking in Italy and Germany and their alleged connections with some Aladura churches, the paper shows how media sensationalizing of such allegations further serves to heighten public apprehension of Aladura. An insufficient grasp of Aladura religious worldview and their strong emphasis on ritual re-enactments may often continue to attract public misrepresentation and diabolization.


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