Branding Orthodoxy: Religious diplomacy and the Makarios legacy in Sub-Saharan Africa

Abstract

This article investigates religious diplomacy and its branding potential and power ramifications, focusing on Cypriot missionary work in Sub-Saharan Africa. It analyses the diplomacy of Archbishop Makarios III, the first President of the Republic of Cyprus, who branded Orthodoxy as an anti-colonial alternative to the African ‘colonial religions’. Makarios used religious diplomacy instrumentally for domestic and international legitimacy as well as for enhancing Cypriot statehood during periods of internal and external contestation. The article also examines the current work of the Greek Orthodox (Cypriot) Mission in Kenya, the continuities and shifts with regard to the initial aims of Makarios’s religious diplomacy. It looks at the extent to which the Mission has been internationalized and potential to function as a ‘reverse mission’ also representing Kenyan-Africans in Cyprus. The article is based on archival research, press coverage, interviews and participatory observation.

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Acknowledgments

This paper is based on research for the project “Cypriot Presence and Public Diplomacy in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Historical Perspective” (2014–16), funded by the A.G. Leventis Foundation. Many thanks to Archbishop Makarios Tillyrides for his openess, help and willingness to respond to our questions as well as to African academics and members of the Orthodox mission who were equally open and helpful. Special thanks to Sam Okoth Opondo for his sound advice and guidance. 

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Correspondence to Costas M. Constantinou.

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Constantinou, C.M., Tselepou, M. Branding Orthodoxy: Religious diplomacy and the Makarios legacy in Sub-Saharan Africa. Place Brand Public Dipl 13, 179–193 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41254-016-0034-6

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Keywords

  • religious diplomacy
  • branding
  • Orthodoxy
  • missionary work
  • anti-colonialism
  • Cyprus