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Posts tagged "Religion"

Faith and race in Muslim America: Being Black and Muslim in the United States.

"Being black and Muslim in America often means that one has to figure out a way to simultaneously navigate two particularly stigmatised social identities: that of being black and that of being Muslim. And when the dominant narrative of Islam in America is that it is primarily a Middle Eastern phenomenon or a South Asian phenomenon, then it does not leave a lot of space for people like me…where do their stories fit in?" - Donna Austin.

Watch this interesting and eye-opening conversation that deals with anti-black sentiment within the American Muslim community that is constructed through a view of Arab superiority, further aided by the systemic racism - both presently and historically - in the United States.

Seeing as the conversation is centered around being both black and Muslim, it’s unfortunate that much was not said about the experiences of black African Muslims in America.


Portraits in the series, “Guardians of Dahomeyan Deities from Benin to Maranhão [Brazil]” (“Zeladores de Voduns do Benin ao Maranhão”) by Márcio Vasconcelos, 2009-2011. In order from the top: ”Pai Euclides,” “Curador,” “Mãe Elzita,” “Mundica Estrela,” “Irene Moreira,” and an unidentified practitioner. Voduns are spirits of Fon origin venerated in the Brazilian religious formations Tambor da Mina and Jeje Candomblé.

Ethnographer and historian Kelly E. Hayes defines a key term:

Zelador means “caretaker” or “custodian” and typically refers to the caretaker of a building or residence…Spirits are conceptualized as members of one’s family, and like family members, the labor required to maintain harmonious relationships with them involves activities of remembering, caring, feeding, and feting. These activities ensure the continual flow of axé, vital energy or life force, necessary for the well-being of both humans and spirits.

(via talesofthestarshipregeneration)

Where is this God that we worship?
The one we worship’s foreign:
we kindled a fire and sparks swirled up,
swirled up a European mountain.

This is the wisdom of their God:
“Black man, prepare for the treasures of heaven
while we prepare for the treasures of Africa!”
Just as the wise men of Pharaoh’s land

commanded the Jews: “Use grass to bake bricks,”
leaving them empty-handed at sunset,
so it is for us black people now:
eager at dawn, at dusk empty-handed.

Excerpt from South Africa poet Nontsizi Mgqwetho's poem Show Me the Mountain That Packed Up and Left.

More poems by African writers.

Images from Mozambican photographer Mario Macilau's series 'The Zionists' that 'documents the traditional religious rituals of Mozambique'.

As a photographer, I believe in the power of images and I’ve been exploring the relationship that exists between the environment, human beings, and time. Photography has connected me to incredible moments and experiences and all the places have taught me something valuable so I try to keep an open mind.


NOTABLE AFRICANS: Danieri Basammula-Ekkere Mwanga II Mukasa

Taking to the the throne at age 16, following the death of his father Muteesa I of Buganda in 1884, Mwanga ruled as the Kabaka (king) of Buganda from 1884 until 1888 and from 1889 until 1897. The 31st Kabaka of Buganda, he would eventually be captured by colonial British forces and exiled to the Seychelles where he would eventually die in 1903.

He is most notably known for his aggressive expulsion of encroaching Christian missionaries in his kingdom by ordering Christian converts to either abandon their religion or face death.

From the Daily Monitor:

Two months into his reign, and oblivious of the negative reactions from imperial powers on his action, Mwanga censured all foreign religions, labelling them dangerous and destructive to Buganda. He saw the burning to death of three Christian converts; and also ordered the capture of Alexander Mackay and two of his fellow Protestant missionaries.

Three years after ascending the throne in 1884, Mwanga had ordered the burning of 45 of his pages; 32 of the murdered converts would later gain worldwide recognition as the Uganda Martyrs.

The executions, including of Bishop James Hannington in 1885, alarmed the Protestants and Catholics, who despite their potent religious disputes, allied to dethrone Mwanga; and they did on August 2, 1888 with the help of the Muslims.

By the time of his first ouster from the throne, Mwanga had no major group to support him. The Muslims were not on his side, after he refused to convert to Islam; the Christians didn’t shield his back either—for ordering several executions; and the Traditionalists, convinced that the small pox ravaging the kingdom then was a result of neglect of traditional cultures and beliefs, had little faith in the king.

The most crucial threat to Mwanga’s reign would, however, be the Europeans, who had the same year he ascended the throne in 1884, met in Berlin, Germany, to allot Africa among themselves. Although he knew that the ‘white man’ was intent on ‘eating’ his kingdom, Mwanga was clueless about the extent of their imperial appetite and greed.

After his deposition, Mwanga was replaced by his brother Kiweewa—but just like his brother, Kiweewa refused to face the circumcision knife and the Muslims - the strongest group then, united to depose him, 40 days into his reign.

(cont. reading)

Further reading: Wikipedia*

*This source makes reference to same-sex relations that the Kabaka may have had, which is how I came to know of him (I was watching a televised debate on whether homosexuality is un-African and one of the speakers mentioned this incident). What I do not appreciate is the way in which some sources (linked source elaborates on this) have used his sexuality as something that is synonymous with evil, or the leading catalyst that led to him ordering the execution of several Christians. 


Orthodox Christians observe Good Friday celebrations in and around the famed monolithic rock-cut churches in Lalibela, Ethiopia on May 3, 2013.

[Credit : Goran Tomasevic/Reuters]


Absurdo Church. Really huge, specially in comparison of the churches you usually see in east Africa. As the Nun told us it has been a work in progresses since the 90’s.

The ancient El Ghriba Synagogue, also known as the Djerba Synagogue, is located on the Tunisian island of Djerba. It is situated in the Jewish village of Hara Seghira, several kilometres southwest of Houmt Souk, the capital of Djerba.

Built in the Moorish architectural style, it is also Africa’s oldest synagogue. The name “El Ghriba” means “the marvelous”, or “the strange”, in Arabic.

Bishop Léon-Antoine-Augustin-Siméon Livinhac, a French Catholic priest and once head of the ‘White Fathers’, a Roman Catholic missionary and evangelical organization that sought to spread the Christian Catholic religion throughout Africa, seen here with ‘converts’ in Uganda.

Bishop Livinhac “oversaw a major expansion of the missionary society that coincided with the European colonial annexation of most of Africa”. His first missionary appointment was in February 1875 in Kabylie, to the east of Algiers. Livinhac left Algiers on 21 April 1878 and reached Uganda on 17 February 1879 where he and other missionaries established a church in the Kingdom of Buganda.

read more

further reading



Mosque in Giza - Cairo, Egypt

By: Ivan Serra

(via fattysaid)


Le Maroc, Editions Larousse (Monde et voyages), 1969.


Map of Colonial Africa in 1913.

Well, things certainly have changed in the past 100 years. I’m still a heathen, though.

AFTERNOON TUNE: The brand new song and video from South Africa’s top house trio Mi Casa, ‘All the Glory’ takes on a religious theme, showing the diversity of various beliefs in the country through individuals that represent these faiths.


Femmes catholiques de Ouidah, Benin. (1900)

I wonder if their conversion was by choice? Here’s an article about the rise of Catholicism in Africa over the past century.

(via manufactoriel)


Trinity Church in Addis Ababa