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Murtala Ibrahim (Alumnus BGSMCS)

Sensation, Sight and Sound of Nigerian Religious Movements: A Comparative Study of Christ Embassy and Nasrul lahi- Fathi Society (NASFAT).

Sensation, Sight and Sound in Nigerian Religious Movements: A Comparative Study of Christ Embassy and Nasrullahi-Fathi Society (NASFAT)

The research project is a comparative study of Christ Embassy and NASFAT and their respective material expressions. Christ Embassy is one of the most active and influential movements in the rapidly growing neo-Pentecostal spectrum in Nigeria. The Church was initiated and led by the highly celebrated Pastor Chris Oyakhilome and his wife Pastor Anita Oyakhilome. The Church is represented throughout the Nigerian Federation and has a number of branches in all of the five continents. NASFAT is one of the most important Islamic groups that operate in the country. One feature that makes NASFAT stand out from other Islamic groups is the apparent influence Pentecostal churches have on some of its activities and modes of expression.

Although the rise of NASFAT should not be reduced alone to the challenges posed by the heavy public presence of Pentecostals in Lagos, there is no doubt that NASFAT is highly influenced by Pentecostal movements. This influence has resulted in remarkable similarities between NASFAT and Christ Embassy, such as: the emphasis placed on economic empowerment, building businesses and prosperity, efficiency and success, prayers against dark spirits and enemies, testimonies during worship services, the adoption of modern marketing strategies such as the use of branding in the Nigerian religious market and the emphasis placed on the establishment of diaspora branches abroad. Both Christ Embassy and NASFAT practice a world-engaging mode of religiosity that produces different forms of material expression, as in spectacular places of worship and the use of audio-visuals (films and websites), publications, music and images. The aim of this research is to undertake a thorough study of Christ Embassy and NASFAT in a comparative framework.

The central focus is on their salient and outspoken, material, expressive forms: soundscape (songs of worship and melodious recitation of the Qur’an), texts (Prayer Books), images (art works, pictures, posters, calendars, web pages, phones, publications), and buildings (places of worship). In the context of the Habitus and Habitats project, this subproject asks the following questions. How do the material forms and, more broadly, the religious aesthetics of Christ Embassy and NASFAT operate as media to link members to a spiritual realm? How do the members of the two movements interact with these material forms (e.g., soundscape, text, images and buildings)? What type of experience or lifestyle results from this interaction? What spatial practices arise from the four material forms? The research methodology will be anthropological and involve interviews and participant observations.

First Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Birgit Meyer

Second Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Kai Kresse