Nigeria - (Africa)

Information about Nigeria

923768 square kilometres
Muslim 50%, Christian 40%(Prot 26.3%, RCath 12.1%, other 1.6%), indigenous beliefs 10%
Christian (%)
Protestant (%)
Reformed (%)

Nigeria is the country with the largest population on the African continent. The official administrative language is English, but more than 500 Nigerian languages are spoken by the various tribes. The main ethnic groups are the Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Efik, Annang, Tiv, Kanuri, Ijaw, Beni, and Fulani.
Afterinitial contacts with Great Britain in 1849, Lagos became a colony of the British Crown in 1861. In 1924 the northern and southern protectorates established by the British in 1900 were united to form Nigeria. Nigeria became a confederation in 1954, and it acquired independence in 1960. It was constituted as a republic in 1963. In 1966 a military government took over. With the exception of the period from 1979 to 1983 Nigeria was ruled by a succession of military governments. From 1967 to 1970 the country was shaken by a civil war between the eastern region which, under the name of Biafra, had declared independence and the army of the central government. In 1992 the capital was moved from Lagos to Abuja in the center of the country.
A large percentage of the population, especially in the North, is Muslim. Historically Christianity is mainly represented in the South, though it is also spreading among the adherents of African religions in the North. Islam penetrated into Nigeria before Christianity. From the 9th century onward the North was gradually Islamicized, and in the 14th century Islam became the official religion in the North. Though Portuguese missionaries had reached the country already in the 15th century, the expansion of Christianity began only with the colonial period in the 19th century. The first RCath order to reach Nigeria was the French “Société des missions africaines” (1861). Today the RCath Church is the largest Christian community in Nigeria (38 dioceses). The Anglican Church Mission Society started work in 1845 and gradually extended its activities toward the North. The Anglican Province of Nigeria was established in 1979. Meth had arrived in Nigeria even earlier (1842), followed by Presb (1846) and Bapt (1850).
In principle Nigeria is a secular state. The constitutions of 1963, 1979, and 1989 guarantee religious freedom. But the recent history of the country has been characterized by tensions between the two religions, often leading to violent outbreaks. The stability of Nigeria depends on constructive relations between Muslims and Christians.
Reformed Christianity came to Nigeria at different times and from various countries. There are today eleven Reformed Churches with a total membership of over five million. These churches have never deliberately separated from one another; they are rather the fruit of separate missionary enterprises.
Several groups can be distinguished. The earliest missionary work was done in the South. The Scottish Mission led to the foundation of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria (1) (1846). The second church to be mentioned is the Qua Iboe Church (2); it resulted from missionary efforts from Northern Ireland (1887).
Five churches are active in the central provinces of Nigeria. All of them have come into being in the 20th century, mostly through efforts of various branches of the Sudan United Mission (SUM). The churches involved are all — directly or indirectly — Dutch in background. The Christian Reformed Church of Nigeria (3) (1904), the Church of Christ in the Sudan among the Tiv (4) (1911), the Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ (5) (1916), the Church of Christ in Nigeria (6) (1920), and the most recent among the Reformed churches: the Nigeria Reformed Church (7) (1970).
In the predominantly Muslim northern part of the country there are four more churches which can be considered Reformed: the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (8) (1922), the Evangelical Church of West Africa (9), the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) (10), and the United Church of Christ in Nigeria (UCCN) (11).
Recognizing the need for better coordination of their witness, several of these churches decided in 1991 to form an association of Reformed Churches in Nigeria (Reformed Ecumenical Council of Nigeria — RECON). Most of them also belong to interdenominational associations such as TEKAN (Fellowship of Christian Churches in Nigeria), CCN (Christian Council of Nigeria), and CAN (Christian Association of Nigeria).



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