Mgbakoigba: Journal of African Studies

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The role of religion in agriculture: reflections from the Bamenda Grassfields of Cameroon since pre-colonial times

Michael Kpughe Lang


The resilience of the relation between religion and development in the broadest sense has been ongoing since the inception of human societies. In societies across the world, there is evidence of the dynamic role of religion in an aura of developmental fields. Agriculture which is central to this study is among the economic spheres in which religious forces and institutions have played a momentous role. In the Bamenda Grassfields of Cameroon like elsewhere in Africa, Traditional Religion and Christianity have marked indelibly the agricultural sector. Based on a broadly secular and historical approach, this paper examines the role of religion as an agent of agricultural development in the Bamenda Grassfields. The first section examines how the concept of agriculture may be viewed through the prism of religion. This will be followed by a sketch presentation of the religious landscape of the Bamenda Grassfields. I will then move on to examine the dynamic role of Traditional Religion and Christianity in agriculture in the area. It is particularly appropriate to lay bare such issues not only because the region remains in need of agricultural development, but also because the potential of its religious and spiritual traditions for agricultural advancement has hardly been the subject of any scientific study. This paper asserts that the role of religion has been a significant factor in the development of agriculture in the Bamenda Grassfields.

Keywords: Agriculture, Bamenda Grassfields, Traditional Religion, Christianity, rituals

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