Globalization and Inter-Religious Dialogue in African Cultural Context

Olugbenga Olagunju


Globalization is a complex concept that cannot be defined within a set time frame, nor is it a process that can be defined clearly without any biases or ambiguity. Globalization cannot be expounded upon with certainty and be applicable to all people and in all situations. Globalization involves economic integration, the transfer of policies across borders, the transmission of knowledge, cultural stability, the reproduction, relations, and discourses of power. It is a global process, a concept, a revolution, and an establishment of the global market free from socio-political control. Globalization encompasses everything. It is a concept that has been defined variously over the years, with some connotations referring to progress, development and stability, integration and cooperation, and others referring to regression, colonialism, and destabilization. Despite these challenges, this term brings with it a multitude of hidden agendas. An individual’s political ideology, geographic location, social status, cultural background, and ethnic and religious affiliation provide the background that determines how globalization is interpreted. The African continent is large with diverse culture and traditions. Their social and cultural values tend toward relationships, hospitality and tolerance of all religious ideas and worldviews. This attitude of the African people accounts for the reasons why religions such as Christianity and Islam had thrived on the continent as they encounter the culture and religions of the traditional people of Africa. The traditional people are either inclusive or pluralistic in their orientations and worldviews. They recognize the fact that the God which Islam and Christianity proclaimed is the same God which the traditional people are worshipping and so when they encountered Islam and Christianity, to dialogue with and tolerate these new religions is not difficult.

This paper is purely a literary work. The thesis of this essay is that accommodation, solidarity and sharing peculiar to the African culture makes the environment conducive for inter-religious encounters and that inter-religious dialogue is a tool for religious peace and harmony in Africa. The task of this paper therefore, is threefold: One, to discuss the characteristics of the African cultural environment and advance some of the factors that are responsible for the possibility of inter-religious dialogue in African cultural environment. Two, to highlight the necessity of and hindrances to inter-religious dialogue in a pluralistic environment such as African cultural environment and finally discuss the forms of inter-religious dialogue in a globalized African community. The writer uses material from the library and internet sources. He consulted articles in Journal, Dictionaries and textbooks.

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