• Healers, Idolaters, and Good Christians: A Case Study of Creolization and Popular Religion in Mid-Eighteenth Century Angola

    Kalle Kananoja (see profile)
    Angola, History--Religious aspects--Christianity
    Item Type:
    African history, Creolization
    Permanent URL:
    The case of Joao Pereira da Cunha and Catarina Juliana provides insights on over two centuries of creolization in Central Africa. The detailed proceedings describe patterns of cultural and religious life that were common and popular in Angola in the eighteenth century. People were not normally punished for this type of behavior and did not get into trouble with the Inquisition unless they occupied an important position in the social hierarchy. In Joao Pereira da Cunha's case, many people clearly had economic reasons to force him out of the slave trade in Ambaca. But as commissario Moreira wrote to the Inquisitors, religious life in Angola was characterized by syncretic practices. The Portuguese administrators and priests roundly condemned these practices in the eighteenth century. For blacks and Luso-Africans of Angola, however, syncretism in religious practice was part of their everyday life. The stories of Joao Pereira da Cunha and Catarina Juliana show, at the individual's level, how creolization had come to characterize eighteenth-century Angola. Catholic religion brought by the Europeans played a prominent role in the daily life of the population, most strongly in Luanda and to a lesser degree in the interior. New elements were introduced into African religious life, but this did not necessarily imply that ancestral traditions would have been forgotten. In Luanda, Ambaca, and throughout Central Africa, many people, although baptized and nominally Christian, continued to adore their ancestral and territorial spirits. Central African religious life was inclusive and remained open to new ideas and influences but never abandoned the old traditions. Joao Pereira da Cunha's and Catarina Juliana's life both bear testimony to this spirit of religious and cultural tolerance—a tolerance that in their case proved to be fateful.
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    3 months ago


    Item Name: pdf kananoja-healers-idolaters.pdf
      Download View in browser
    Activity: Downloads: 18