Introduction: The Pentecostal and the Political in Africa
This chapter provides a background to the different perspectives in this volume on the relationship between the Pentecostal and the political in Africa. It outlines the various views, arguments, and investigations that the individual chapters bring to the underlying questions: What are the current and most pertinent features of African Pentecostalism and Pentecostalism in Africa? What are the antecedents for the establishment, proliferation, and legitimization of the Pentecostal movement in Africa? How does Pentecostalism intervene in specific social and political issues, such as secularism, citizenship, endemic poverty, development challenges, ascension to power; and in primordial and political identity questions, including ethnicity and race issues, gender and womanist politics, ecumenism and interfaith relationships, party politics, political participation; and other facets of politics and society in Africa? Conversely, in what ways do the state and the peculiar nature of politics in Africa modulate the Pentecostal movement? Can Pentecostalism be regarded as an alternative vision or as a compromised acquiescence to the political order in Africa? What theoretical frameworks and paradigms can we deploy to make sense of these questions, and what new hypotheses might we propose for explaining the intersections of Pentecostalism with politics in Africa?