Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on ReligionInstitute for Studies of Relgion
IJRR :: 2012 Volume 8 :: Article 1
2012 Volume 8, Article 1
Religion, Secularism, and Political Discourse in Tanzania: Competing Perspectives by Religious Organizations

Author: Mohammed A. Bakari (University of Dar es Salaam)

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Tanzania, one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa to have achieved an impressive degree of national integration, is increasingly facing a religious challenge in the nation-building process. Using a historical perspective that traces the origin of the Tanzanian state as well as documenting contemporary evidence, largely based on an in-depth study of the six selected religious organizations, this article makes the argument that there is a high degree of suspicion among religious communities, which makes national unity and political stability fragile. Christian and Islamic organizations generally have different perceptions of the degree to which the Tanzanian state is secular, and they tend to adopt different stances on a number of political issues and public policies. The article recommends a restructuring of governance structures and a change of the state attitude from a state-centric to a more democratic approach that would allow free articulation of societal demands, including those of a religious nature, and the effective management of these demands as a way of promoting peaceful coexistence and cooperation in a multireligious nation.

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