This week our partner Dr Gabriel Faimau (Department of Sociology, University of Botswana) recieved funding for his project: New Media and cultural application on religion: A case study of prophetic ministries in Botswana.
Below, Dr. Gabriel Faimaus explains the background for the project and his research questions.
Botswana - a secular state?
Contemporary Botswana is known as home for hundreds of Christian denominations. Although Botswana is officially a secular state, Botswana is often viewed as a Christian country.
Within this context, it is often said that to be a Motswana means to be a Christian. The 2011 Population and Housing Censusin Botswana showed that Christianity (79%) remains the predominant religion followed by African Traditional Religion (4.1%) and then Islam (0.74%).
Data from the 2011 Population and Housing Census also indicated that at least 15% of the population was not associated to any religion. The census results showed an increase in the level of religious affiliation with believers in Christianity increasing by at least 7% from the 2001 Population Census.
Studies on Christianity in Botswana generally classify Christianity in three (3) main categories or families of churches:
(i) Main line churches
(ii) Africa independent churches and
(iii) Evangelicalor Pentecostalor Charismatic churches
*Lately prophetic ministries have emerged on the map of religious landscape in Botswana
Beyond studies on churches and religious movements in Botswana, little is known about the extent to which media influence religious practices within churches, how the logic of cultural practices plays a role in the reconfiguration of religious practices and how reconfiguration of religious practices also gives shape to various cultural practices.
The study on “New Media and Cultural Application on Religion” in the context of Botswana is based on three emerging facts: first, Botswana has witnessed a spectacular growth of prophetic ministries in the past two decades; second, Botswana is currently experiencing a new media revolution through the emerging use of social networking platforms and applications of short message services(SMS); third, the meeting of prophetic ministries and the use of emerging new media accelerates religious competition among churches and raises the question of cultural production and cultural application on various aspects of the life of Batswana.
While these emerging facts appear closely related, little attention has been paid to determine how they are actually linked.
This study aims at examining how new media play a crucial role in the religious discourse and approach of emerging prophetic ministries and the extent to which cultural manifestations of prophetic ministries in Botswana resemble and rediscover Tswana cultural practices that inform various religious practices within these ministries.
Dr. Gabriel Faimau (Principal Investigator) will complete this study, with his co-investigators Dr Botshabelo Kealesitse (Department of Marketing, University of Botswana) and Dr William O. Lesitaokana (Department of Media Studies, University of Botswana)
The project is funded by "Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity, Calvin College, USA". The project will be carried out between February 2016 to June 2017.