Letter From Africa: The Power of Religion

November 7, 2014

In BBC’s series of letters from African journalists, writer and novelist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani argues that most religious leaders play a positive role in Nigeria.

Many religious leaders in Africa are regarded as superstars.

Take the pastors of Nigeria’s mega-churches, for example. Their meetings pack stadiums across the continent. Their books are bestsellers in a society that is frequently accused of having a poor reading culture.

And in a country that lays claim to a huge percentage of Africa’s most acclaimed moguls, entertainment personalities and intellectuals, the Facebook and Twitter pages with some of the highest number of followers are those of pastors.

A 2010 survey by the US-based Pew Research Center shows that “the vast majority of people in many of Africa’s nations are deeply committed to the practices and major tenets of Christianity and Islam”. Some 87% of Nigerians surveyed said religion was very important in their lives - compared with 19% in the UK.

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