Revealing the secrets of others (on YouTube)

New and old in the public representations of Ghanaian traditional religion


In the midst of the proliferation of Christianity and Islam, traditional religious movements struggle for recognition all over Africa. In order to reach nationwide and diasporic audiences, traditionalist movements have sought to assume a visible role in modern mass media. In Ghana, West Africa, the traditionalists have been at pains to challenge the dominance of Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity in the public sphere. Analysts have pointed out that traditional religion’s public role has been constrained by its emphasis on secrecy and limited access to spiritual powers, while Christianity’s public performances of revelations have been better suited for mass media. One of the major themes in the public representations of Pentecostalism has been the revealing of satanic influences working underneath the secrecy of traditional religion. By using examples from Ghana the article shows how the traditionalists have recently developed their own revelatory discourse, in which the dualism godly/satanic has been subverted. By publicly exposing Christian pastors as frauds in social media the traditionalists reemploy and redirect an age-old accusation of charlatanism previously targeted at themselves by both Christian and secularist commentators. More importantly, however, these statements should be understood as attempts to redefine Christianity from a non-Christian perspective.

Sep 20, 2019
How to Cite
Kallinen, T. (2019). Revealing the secrets of others (on YouTube): New and old in the public representations of Ghanaian traditional religion. Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society, 44(1), 30-50.