BY Charles Ayitey, 11:17am April 05, 2016,

African Pentecostalism: How Much Is Too Much?

Africa is home to one of the world's largest number of Christians. (Photo:

Over the centuries since colonial masters introduced the Western European form of Christianity to Africa, it has been embraced by Africans all over the continent. Believers have been credited as champions for both education and social development in the colonies; ironically, the religion also paved the way for the liberation struggle. In recent times, the most popular denominations – Anglicanism, Methodism and Catholicism – have been dominated by a new form of Pentecostalism popularly known as Charismatic Christianity.

This form of Christianity, which dwells on the works of the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts and modern-day miracles, has seen a new wave of African followers and preachers who go the extra mile, you might say, displaying a quite shocking and disturbing twist to the Christian walk.

Since African Pentecostalism spread to South Africa in the early 1900s, the denomination spread throughout several other African countries including Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast. The taste for the African version of Pentecostal Christianity grew in the 1970’s, when there was a massive spread of independent charismatic churches, especially in West Africa.

William Wadé Harris of Liberia is well respected for bringing the wave of Pentecostalism to Africa in 1913-14. (Photo:

William Wadé Harris of Liberia is well respected for bringing the wave of Pentecostalism to Africa in 1913-14. This sculpture was raised in Ivory Coast, where Harris preached the gospel early in his mission work. (Photo:

To date, Africa remains one of the continents with the highest numbers of Pentecostals as against any other continent on the world. In fact, according to the European Research Network on Global Pentecostalism, 3-4 million Ethiopians today claim to be Pentecostal – an estimation which could potentially quadruple should there be a headcount of the total African Pentecostal population.

While the charismatic movement in Africa has dramatically increased in terms of numbers, it has marginally diminished in terms of quality, and here is why.

Last Edited by:Sandra Appiah Updated: April 5, 2016


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