As it is in Heaven! Mimetic Theory, Religious Transformation and Social Crisis in Africa

Journal of Human Values 15 (1):15-27 (2009)
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This article is an overview of Rene Girard's mimetic theory and its application to and implications for conflict in Africa. It accepts Girard's basic idea that imitation is a feature of all individuals but disagrees with his view that the Christian gospel can adequately eliminate mimetic rivalry and thereby lead to a non-sacrificial culture. Drawing from the concept of culture and the African experience of Christianity, it argues that the Christian influence in Africa has only produced a hybrid culture, which draws heavily from the traditional culture. Thus, instead of demythologizing the culture, the gospel has actually introduced new myths into the African setting, which generate a new type of mimetic crisis that traditional forms of intervention are incapable of ameliorating. It argues that the Christian gospel as the precursor of the new myths cannot, in its current form, diffuse the crisis. The article suggests a re-engineering of the gospel to cater for this new reality and thus diffuse the crisis.



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Ibanga Ikpe
University of Botswana

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