Segments in this Video

Voodoo and Christianity (02:25)


Benin, Africa: Voodoo still influences religious ceremonies. The Celestial Church of Christ promotes a charismatic cult halfway between voodoo and Christianity. It has a following of 10 million worldwide.

Celestial Church of Christ (04:07)

In the Celestial Church of Christ, parishioners have directly experiences with God, which in some cases are expressed during the church ceremony. Followers possess the ability to communicate directly with the Holy Spirit.

Polygamy and Exorcism (05:31)

Certain priests of the Celestial Church practice polygamy. A man falls ill suddenly and remains so for 2 years. The church fathers prepare themselves for an exorcism on the man. Priests perform a ceremony for infertile women.

Celestial Church: Initiation Ceremony (04:58)

New possible followers of the Celestial Church of Christ learn from visionary women the steps they should take in the future. The female seers believe in miracles. The initiate takes part in ceremonies and in immersion baptism.

Water Spirits and Genies (03:57)

In Mali, humans collaborate with the Yin, or water spirits, in order to be successful and not fail. Water genies guide, protect, or punish those who come within their jurisdiction on the water. People fall into trances and foam at the mouth in a ceremony.

Islamic Sufism (02:35)

In Cairo, Egypt, the Rifai Sufis are a mystic, and not very orthodox branch of Islam. They believe in the secret and magical value of words. A charitable sect, the Rifai Sufis care for the sick, the poor, and the orphans.

Surfism and Dervishes (02:59)

Khartoum, Sudan: hundreds of men come together to dance and sing in front of a mosque in order to come into mystic contact with God. Sufism is a search for unity through the love of God's word.

Celebration of the Prophet's Grandson (03:42)

On July 15, hundreds of thousands of Sufis come to Cairo to celebrate the birthday of Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet. They dance, sing, pray, and go into trances. Words from the Koran and music have the power to heal.

Practices of Sufism (02:46)

Sufism is education, composure, and ethics derived from the Koran. Sufi music helps sublimate the heart in praise of God.

Village for Women Accused of Witchcraft (04:51)

In Kukoe, Ghana, women accused of witchcraft find welcome and sanctuary. They come from all corners of Western Africa. The women have their own leader, but because she is a witch, they blame her for what goes wrong in the village.

Ethiopia: Caves of Sof Omar (04:46)

Sof Omar, Ethiopia: a widower makes an annual pilgrimage to the caves of Sof Omar to pray for his dead wife and daughter. The journey refreshes him and relieves his spirit.

Importance of Religion in Africa (05:48)

On his pilgrimage to the Caves of Sof Omar in Ethiopia, a man meets many people on his way. Few automobiles traverse the roads, and pilgrims accompany one another. The people of Africa find refuge in religion.

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Paper Gods: Aspects of Religion in Benin, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Mali

Part of the Series : The Call of Africa: The Voice of a Continent
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Christianity, Islam, and a broad range of indigenous religions coexist side by side in Africa, in many cases blending into unique hybrids. This program—an inquiry into the nature of the continent’s spiritual practices—spotlights the Reverend Pastor Benoît D. Agbaossi, supreme head of the Celestial Church of Christ, in Benin, and footage of an exorcism and The Ceremony of the Infertile Woman; the village of Kukoe, Ghana, where women accused of witchcraft find welcome and sanctuary; the Rifai Sufis of Cairo, who provide insights into the meaning of Sufism; Yin believers of the Niger River, who venerate water spirits, and footage of the Holey Horey Ceremony; and a pilgrimage to the Sof Omar Cave, in Ethiopia, where a blend of Christianity, Islam, and animism is practiced. (Portions in other languages with English subtitles, 50 minutes)

Length: 52 minutes

Item#: BVL39451

ISBN: 978-1-60467-355-5

Copyright date: ©2004

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“Could serve as the beginning of a discussion on the cultural forces of flow, fragmentation, fission, and fusion that shape all aspects of culture today…. Suitable for high school and college courses in cultural anthropology, anthropology of religion, and Africa studies, as well as general audiences.”—Anthropology Review Database

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Only available in USA and Canada.