An Overview:

'Africa' is just as much a convenient geographical term as is 'Europe'. The continent is huge (the world's second largest) and diverse, with Arabs in the north and whites in the south as African as the peoples of the Black interior. The Equator cuts Africa in half Most images of Africa are those of the sub-Saharan tropics which were inaccessible to all but the most hardy foreign explorers until quinine in the later 19th century reduced (it did not entirely eliminate) the chance of death from malaria, still a tremendous killer world-wide, carried by the mosquito. Africa is a source of inspiration for many Black Americans and Britons who search for a rich heritage, but for those who live there it is divided by language ( many states have several dozen; total languages in Africa are perhaps 1000, but counting dialects, there must be many thousands) and ethnic feuds. One of the significant changes in thinking about Africa has been the way that it has become a mystical (and trendy) icon, rather than the Dark Continent.

Its name comes either from the Greek aphrike (no cold), or aprica (Latin for sunny). The Greeks called Africa 'Libya'. Africa is a vast plateau, with volcanoes in the east, and the Great East African Rift Valley which starts in Syria and continues to Tanzania. There are basins in the Congo, Chad and the Sudan. Only 10% of the world's population live in Africa, partly because of there being so much desert. Most people live in Nigeria or East Africa. The northern half of the continent is hottest April - September, but the southern half, September to March.

Violence has sometimes occurred because imperial powers drew arbitrary lines on maps, paying no attention to the tribal differences in those new countries. However, some feuds are traditional rivalries, such as between Zulus and Xhosas of the Inkarta Freedom Party in South Africa (see section 4 for issues in South Africa). West Africa, which was mainly part of the French Empire, though it contains some formerly British territory, such as Nigeria, is the focus of many black aspirations, because it was practical for slave-traders to buy slaves here bound for America and Brazil (which received seven times as many slaves as the USA). Hence many Black Americans and Caribbean islanders must have had ancestors from here. This is the land from which Alex Haley traced his ancestry in his 1976 work Roots, set in Senegambia, a search for Black identity. Liberia was founded in West Africa by ex-slaves and humanitarians; successful writers and poets, such as Ben Okri and Wole Soyinka, have come from Nigeria.

The church has grown over the past years but since the end of colonialism there have arisen many national African churches. These range widely from stable orthodox Christian groups to wildly heretical ones, but all manifest African culture rather than European culture. The need is to help all these African churches play their part in global missions by teaching, resources and partnerships where Africans take the leadership. They know the cultures, languages and ways of their own peoples or peoples from a similar culture.

Training, equipping and sending of African missionaries who are also Near Relatives is a high priority. Team teaching and literature distribution is an important aspect of evangelism and motivation of these Christians. Many social and economic needs have also to be addressed in creative ways.

Area % Muslim Muslim Population Area % Muslim Muslim Population
Nigeria 36 44,100,000 Sierra Leone 40 1,720,000
Ethiopia 35 18,620,000 Malawi 16.3 1,532,000
Tanzania 32 8,743,000 Kenya 6 1,512,000
Somalia 99.8 7,685,000 Uganda 5 935,000
Senegal 92 6,900,000 Benin 16.8 806,000
Niger 86 6,880,000 Gambia 87 783,000
Mali 81 6,723,000 Togo 19 722,000
Guinea 70 5,250,000 Liberia 21 567,000
Burkino Faso 46 4,324,000 Comoros 99.5 498,000
Cote D'ivoire 25 3,125,000 Guinea Bissau 42.5 425,000
Ghana 17 2,635,000 Djibouti 96 384,000
Mozambique 13 2,093,000 Mauritius 16.6 183,000