Religion in Guinea (2020)[1]

  Muslim (86.8%)
  Indigenous beliefs (9.42%)
  Christian (3.52%)
  Irreligious (0.1%)
  Buddhist (0.16%)

Religion in Guinea is approximately 89% Muslim, 7% Christian, with 2% adhering to indigenous religious beliefs in 2022. There are also smaller numbers of Atheists and practitioners of other religions in the country.[2] Much of the population, both Muslim and Christian, also incorporate indigenous African beliefs into their outlook.[3]

In 2023, the Association of Religion Date Archives (ARDA) has Muslims at 86.8%, Christian 3.52%, and Animist 9.42%.[4]

Religions

Islam

Further information: Islam in Guinea

Guinean Muslims are generally Sunni of Maliki school of jurisprudence, influenced with Sufism,[5] with some Ahmadiyya.[6] Shiism is growing due to the Lebanese diaspora population and few local converts.

Christianity

Further information: Roman Catholicism in Guinea

Christian groups include Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and other Evangelical groups. Jehovah's Witnesses are active in the country and recognized by the Government.[7]

Other religions

There is a small community of the Baháʼí Faith. There are small numbers of Hindus, Buddhists, and traditional Chinese religious groups among the expatriate community.[8]

Traditional beliefs

Further information: Sande society

A Sande society helmet mask (1940-1965). The Sande society is a secret women's association.

The Sande society is a secret women's association found in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea that initiates girls into adulthood, confers fertility, instills notions of morality and proper sexual comportment, and maintains an interest in the well-being of its members throughout their lives. In addition, Sande champions women's social and political interests and promotes their solidarity vis-a-vis the Poro society, a complementary institution for men. Today this social institution is found among the Bassa, Gola, Kissi, Kpelle, Loma, Mano and Vai of Liberia.

Throughout the region, the complementarity of men's and women's gender roles - evident in such diverse activities as farming, cloth production, and musical performances - reach full expression. The women's Sande and men's Poro associations alternate political and ritual control of "the land" (a concept embracing the natural and supernatural worlds) for periods of three and four years respectively. During Sande's sovereignty, all signs of the men's society are banished.[9][10]

At the end of this three-year period, the Sande leadership "turns over the land" to its counterparts in the Poro Society for another four years, and after a rest period the ritual cycle begins anew. The alternating three- and four-year initiation cycles for women and men respectively are one example of the widespread use of the numbers 3 and 4 to signify the gender of people, places and events; together the numbers equal seven, a sacred number throughout the region.[11][12]

Religious geography

In 2012, Muslims constituted a majority in all four major regions of Guinea.[13] Christians are most numerous in Conakry, large cities, the south, and the eastern Forest Region. Indigenous religious beliefs were most prevalent in the Forest Region.[14]

Religious freedom

Formal protections

The Constitution of Guinea, although suspended from the time of the 2009 military junta until after the 2010 democratic elections, writes that Guinea is a secular state where all enjoy equality before the law, regardless of religion.[15] The constitution provides for the right of individuals to choose, change, and practice the religion of their choice.[16]

The Guinean government's Secretariat of Religious Affairs aims to promote better relations among religious denominations and ameliorate interethnic tensions. The secretary general of religious affairs appoints six national directors to lead the offices of Christian affairs, Islamic affairs, pilgrimages, places of worship, economic affairs and the endowment, and general inspector.[17]

The imams and administrative staff of the principal mosque in the capital city of Conakry, and the principal mosques in the main cities of the four regions, are government employees. These mosques are directly under the administration of the government.[18]

By 2012, the government observed the following religious holidays as national holidays: Mawlid (Muhammad's birthday), Easter Monday, Assumption Day, Eid al-Fitr, Tabaski, and Christmas.[19]

In 2023, the country was scored 3 out of 4 for religious freedom according to Freedom House, which said that religious rights are generally respected occasional reports of discrimination.[20]

In Guinean society

In some parts of Guinea, strong familial, communal, cultural, social, or economic pressure discourage conversion from Islam.[21] It was reported that in 2012 that in the town of Dinguiraye, a holy city for African Muslims, public celebration of non-Muslim religious holidays or festivals are not permitted. Dinguiraye town authorities have also refused permission to build a church within its boundaries.[22]

Ethno-religious violence

Further information: 2013 Guinea clashes

There were 3 days of ethno-religious fighting in the city of Nzerekore in July 2013.[23][24] Fighting between ethnic Kpelle, who are Christian or animist, and ethnic Konianke, who are Muslims and close to the larger Malinke ethnic group, left at least 54 dead.[25] The dead included people who were killed with machetes and burned alive.[26] The violence ended after the Guinea military imposed a curfew, and President Conde made a televised appeal for calm.[27]

In 2021, violence was limited to Kendoumaya, Lower Guinea, and mainly concerned a land rights dispute between locals and a monastery.[28]

References

  1. ^ World Religions Database at the ARDA website, retrieved 2023-08-03
  2. ^ "Guinea", The World Factbook, Central Intelligence Agency, 2022-03-02, retrieved 2022-03-05
  3. ^ "Guinea 2012 International Religious Freedom Report", US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  4. ^ World Religions Database at the ARDA website, retrieved 2023-08-03
  5. ^ Kenneth Harrow, "A Sufi Interpretation of 'Le Regard du Roi'", Research in African Literatures v. 14 no. 2 (Summer, 1983)
  6. ^ J. Gordon Melton, Martin Baumann (21 September 2010). Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs. p. 1280. ISBN 978-1-59884-203-6. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  7. ^ US State Dept 2022 report
  8. ^ US State Dept 2022 report. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  9. ^ Leopold, Robert S. (1983) The Shaping of Men and the Making of Metaphors: The Meaning of White Clay in Poro and Sande Initiation Society Rituals. Anthropology 7(2): 21-42.
  10. ^ Sawyerr, Harry and S. K. Todd (1970) The Significance of the Numbers Three and Four among the Mende of Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone Studies (n.s.) 26: 29-36.]
  11. ^ [Leopold, Robert S. (1983) The Shaping of Men and the Making of Metaphors: The Meaning of White Clay in Poro and Sande Initiation Society Rituals. Anthropology 7(2): 21-42.
  12. ^ Sawyerr, Harry and S. K. Todd (1970) The Significance of the Numbers Three and Four among the Mende of Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone Studies (n.s.) 26: 29-36.
  13. ^ "Guinea 2012 International Religious Freedom Report", US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  14. ^ "Guinea 2012 International Religious Freedom Report", US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  15. ^ "Guinea's Constitution of 2010" (PDF). Constitute Project.
  16. ^ "Guinea 2012 International Religious Freedom Report", US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  17. ^ "Guinea 2012 International Religious Freedom Report", US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  18. ^ "Guinea 2012 International Religious Freedom Report", US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  19. ^ "Guinea 2012 International Religious Freedom Report", US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  20. ^ Freedom House website, retrieved 2023-08-03
  21. ^ "Guinea 2012 International Religious Freedom Report", US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  22. ^ "Guinea 2012 International Religious Freedom Report", US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  23. ^ "Guinea's Conde appeals for calm after 11 killed in ethnic clashes", Reuters, July 16, 2013.
  24. ^ "Guinean troops deployed after deadly ethnic clashes", BBC Africa, 17 July 2013.
  25. ^ "Guinean troops deployed after deadly ethnic clashes", BBC Africa, 17 July 2013.
  26. ^ "Guinean troops deployed after deadly ethnic clashes", BBC Africa, 17 July 2013.
  27. ^ "Guinean troops deployed after deadly ethnic clashes", BBC Africa, 17 July 2013.
  28. ^ US State Dept 2022 report