Interfaith Marriages: The Case of Muslims and Christians in Contemporary Zongo Communities in Accra

by Stephen Owoahene-Acheampong and Charles Prempeh

Abstract

The forces of cosmopolitanism, globalization and neoliberal policies have advanced interfaith marriages globally. This study looks at the phenomenon of interfaith marriages between Muslims and Christians in Zongo communities in Accra. Zongo is a Hausa word used to refer to communities that have historically been associated with itinerant Muslim traders and which also served as Muslim enclaves in the Gold Coast. Today Zongo communities, which were once predominantly Muslim, are now religiously and ethnically pluralistic. There is a discernible mix of adherents of other religions in Zongo communities. In the study, we show that although doctrinal differences between Muslims and Christians serve as fundamental reference point in prohibiting interfaith marriages, there are other factors that make a future of more frequent and tolerated marriages between Muslims and Christians in Zongo communities in Accra seem doubtful.

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Stephen Owoahene-Acheampong, Ph.D., S.T.D., is a Senior Research Fellow and Head of Religions and Philosophy Unit at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Accra. Recent books: Anthology of African Presidential Leadership and Governance, 1956-2015, (2017); and African Presidential Leaders: Selected Case Studies, (2018).

Charles Prempeh had his B.A. and M.Phil. degrees in African Studies from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, and University of Ghana, Legon, respectively. He is currently a PhD student at the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge. His research interest is on religions in contemporary Africa.