ABSTRACT

The 1980s and 1990s, an era of ‘oil doom’ and successive military dictatorship, marked a political and socio-economic watershed in the history of the Nigerian polity. Concomitant with this phase of abysmal collapse of social, economic, and political institutions was an unprecedented resurgence and rapid proliferation of new religious movements, particularly new Christian movements with Pentecostal and charismatic persuasions. In the wake of political crises and failing economies, religious communities also provided significant channels for expressions of frustration as well as avenues where claims as an alternative source of problem-resolution were negotiated and legitimized. This paper explores how this religious development marked a significant turning point in the history of Christianity in Nigeria; with its religious geography assuming a more complex and diversified posture through Pentecostal/charismatic forms of Christianity. One main thrust of African Pentecostal religiosity is the preponderance of deliverance and spiritual warfare rituals in their cosmological tradition. Using the example of the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFM) founded in Lagos in the 1980s, the paper examines its demographic expansion, its belief in, and appropriation of, spiritual warfare and deliverance rituals in Africa and the African diaspora. It shows how the MFM, through its preoccupation with the epistemology of demons and the extensive appropriation of warfare rhetoric, has carved out a niche for itself in African Pentecostal discourse in both local and global contexts.

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