Rel04
Gathering and separating in the name of god? Instrumentalization of religious rights in contemporary Africa

Convenors:
Anthony Okeregbe (University of Lagos)
Chair:
Muyiwa Falaiye (University of Lagos)
Stream:
Religion
Location:
Chrystal McMillan, Seminar Room 4
Friday 14 June, 8:45-10:15

Short abstract:

This panel seeks multidisciplinary perspectives, both in content and methodology, to the interrogation of these connective and disruptive tendencies in the instrumentalization of religious rights, and their effects on Africa's social and cultural dynamics.

Long abstract:

In recent times, the freedom of religion, which is enshrined in the constitutions of many African countries as a fundamental human right, has become both a vehicle of unity and a sword of discord. And in both forms it mutates as religious rights. Whilst religious rights are a means of connecting people within and beyond Africa through the use of shared symbolisms and interdicts, they are also constitutional devices through which certain agencies, in the words of Chinua Achebe's Obierika "put a knife on the things that held us together". This panel seeks multidisciplinary perspectives, both in content and methodology, to the interrogation of these connective and disruptive tendencies in the instrumentalization of religious rights, and their effects on Africa's social and cultural dynamics. It seeks to raise questions about the axiological prospects of such instrumentalization as for instance: Why are some religious rights socially acceptable and others intolerable? What constitutes proper justification of the instrumentalization of religious rights? In the age of assertive secularism, what sense does it make to regard the freedom of religion as a right to be instrumentalized? What value does this bring to Africa's socio-cultural landscape as a point of convergence? And what does it portend as a centrifugal force? In all, this panel attempts to rigorously discuss the effect of instrumentalization of religious rights in the reshaping of lives, rethinking of ideas and the re-evaluation of widely-held beliefs of the African people.